City of Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga on Tuesday accused the ANC of "cheap politicking" after it came under criticism following the tragic death of five children in Soshanguve's Ward 27.
A high-mast light ring apparently fell on the children aged from six to 12 on Saturday. Four of the children died on the scene and the fifth died in hospital.
The ANC's greater Tshwane region on Monday said the children's death was as a result of negligence and incompetence on the part of the Tshwane metro leadership.
"This is a classic case of the unprepared, irresponsible and poor leadership on the part of the DA/EFF government in Tshwane. Mayor Msimanga and his coalition deliberately reassigned maintenance funds from townships, including Soshanguve, and prioritised the inner city, hence the infrastructure in these areas is not maintained," said ANC regional spokesperson Teboho Joala.
Lindela Mashigo, Msimanga's acting spokesperson, denied that the city had reassigned maintenance funds to prioritise the inner city.
"A big chunk of the city's budget has been allocated to areas outside of the city to maintain infrastructure," Mashigo told News24.
Cable theft, vandalism blamed
He said it was the previous ANC government that failed to maintain infrastructure in areas outside the city.
The ANC said it had learnt that Msimanga said cable theft and vandalism had led to the tragedy, "indirectly blaming members of the community but our preliminary assessment tells us he is not telling the truth".
"ANC councillors and members of the community from this specific ward have submitted countless petitions to the municipality demanding maintenance of various infrastructure ranging from open sewer manholes, streets lights, water leaks, potholes, etc. All these petitions have fallen onto the deaf ears of the arrogant administration," said Joala, in a statement.
Joala said ANC councillors and their caucus leaders had been with the families of the deceased since the incident occurred "but Msimanga and his coalition are nowhere to be found".
However, Mashigo said Msimanga and his delegation were on Monday prevented from visiting bereaved families by members of the local business forum.
"Upon arrival at Block X Community Hall in Ward 27 in Soshanguve, the delegation was met by members from the local business forum indicating their discomfort with the presence of the executive mayor and some members of the delegation. In light of the tragic events that recently unfolded and cognisant of the raw emotions, the mayor decided not to engage with the mob, but rather make his way to the first of the distraught families," Mashigo said.
Investigation to be launched
He said when the delegation arrived at the home to express condolences to the parents of one of the children who were killed, Msimanga was again accosted by the mob "which was clearly being used to push a political agenda at a time when politics was the furthest thing from the mayor's mind".
Mashigo also defended Msimanga from claims that the mayor had said residents were involved in cable theft.
"We are not saying 100% of the members of the community are involved in cable theft," he said.
He said those who are involved in cable theft lived within the communities and residents should not harbour them.
"If residents hide culprits, they will be affected as institutions such as hospitals will be left without electricity," he said.
Police have opened an inquest docket and a chief inspector from the labour department will investigate the cause of the tragedy, he said.
"It is sad that the ANC is using such a tragic incident for cheap politicking," he said.