COUNCILS SPEND EXORBITANT FEES ON COURT FIGHTS: DAILY DISPATCH

MUNICIPALITIES in the Eastern Cape spent millions of rands on legal fees in the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 financial years.

A staggering R60-million was spent during the 2010-2011 financial year and in the 2011-2012 financial year this more than doubled to R130million.

The information was sourced in the province.

Top spender is KSD municipality with R9.8million in legal fees, followed by Kouga with R4.2million, Makana municipality at R2.2-million, Intsika Yethu municipality at R1.2-million, Mbashe and Ingquza Hill municipalities with more than R1million.

Those about to hit the million-rand mark include Blue Crane, Port St Johns and Ngcobo municipalities. Amathole District municipality only spent R24 965.

In his response to a DA parliamentary question, local government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said there were 67 cases registered at the Mthatha High Court for 2011.

In 2012, 73 legal matters had been recorded. In the Port Elizabeth labour court there were 61 cases for the 2011-2012 financial year.

A municipal official, who preferred anonymity, said most disputes related to disgruntled employees frustrated at the slow pace at which the municipality handled their matters.

Some employees who believed they had been unfairly dismissed sought recourse in the courts.

DA MPL Dacre Haddon told the Dispatch yesterday: “Municipalities need to get qualified legal people. It all comes down to having competent people who are capable of doing their job – to advise municipalities on basic legal matters.”

UDM councillor Mabandla Gogo said KSD’s tendency to spend money on attorneys was of concern.

KSD spokesman Sonwabo Mampoza had not responded to Daily Dispatch questions at the time of going to print.