IN the letter, "Is funeral funding legal?" (October 9), the writer quite rightly asks how ratepayers feel about their money being used to pay for the funerals of private individuals. The writer would also like a reply from the municipality as to the legality of its actions.
It is highly unlikely that the municipality will respond, so do not hold your breath awaiting one. While I cannot respond on behalf of the municipality, I can do so as a very concerned councillor.
The writer will find that in the agenda of the council meeting to be held tomorrow that the executive mayor and those who have acted on his behalf have approved a total of R1059045 to fund no fewer that seven funerals. The contributions range from R5000 per funeral to R324681, depending on how well the deceased was connected to the ANC. The contribution of R324681 per funeral, referred to above, was made for the three councillors who sadly passed away in a motor accident in January this year.
This allocation is despite the fact that council's welfare policy allows a maximum of R50000 per councillor for a civic funeral.
As I am not a legal practitioner, I cannot express a legal opinion. However, I am of the opinion that this expenditure is illegal, as section 62 (1) (a) of the Municipal Finance Management Act states that the accounting officer, in our case Themba Hani, is responsible and must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the resources of the municipality are used effectively, efficiently and economically.
While the DA will continue to expose this ongoing abuse of the public purse and refer it to the public protector, we do not have the resources to challenge everything legally.
I therefore invite the writer of the letter plus any other concerned ratepayers to attend tomorrow's council meeting. Come and witness how your funds are being abused, and assist us with resources to challenge this ongoing abuse.
Leon de Villiers, DA caucus leader, NMB