SERVICE delivery at Bulawayo City Council has been compromised by a massive drop in the city’s staff complement from over 5 000 employees a few years back to 3 000 workers, as government has since blocked the local authority from filling up vacant posts.
BY SILAS NKALA
This came out last Friday, as the council’s deputy city engineer, Mente Ndlovu, was testifying in a case, where the local authority is accused of causing the electrocution of a social soccer player, Shepherd Mgcini Mpala, after he got into contact with an unsecured live wire at a tower light close to Induba Grounds in Iminyela. The fatal incident occurred on December 5, 2015.
Ndlovu (58), represented by council lawyer Norman Mangena, denied the culpable homicide charge when he appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Gladmore Mushove.
Ndlovu accused Zesa officials of shifting the blame on the council, when it was also equally to blame by virtue of being the supplier of electricity to the installation.
He said it was not true that Mpala died due to electrocution. Ndlovu said the witnesses, who made the claims in court, were just dramatising the event, as they were allowed to draw their own conclusions.
Mpala died after allegedly holding a live cable at a tower light. But Ndlovu said it was not possible for him to be electrocuted by the cables, as they were insulated.
“Zesa lied about the findings and we believe the report made by our engineer sent to the scene, who said all was in order at the tower light and the death was not caused by electrocution,” he said.
Ndlovu admitted though that council was responsible for maintenance of the tower light, adding the city had 443 functional tower lights and 16 others still under installation, yet it only had one electrical engineer and two assistants in that department.
“The city used to have a staff complement of more than 5 000, but due to the situation prevailing in the country, we are left with around 3 000 workers, as some left, others died and some were retrenched. We are also under lock and key as we cannot employ even if people die or leave. We have only three workers attending to all the tower lights and it is not possible for them to attend to them all.”
He also blamed residents for vandalising installations, saying even if the tower lights were attended to, that does not stop vandalism and at the end, council is to blame when an accident occurs.
The matter was remanded to May 28.