Newcastle Municipality’s deputy mayor Reuben Mololekoa will return to the Madadeni Magistrate’s Court in March facing charges of reckless and negligent driving and drunk driving, following an accident on 10 September close to midnight.

The municipality has since issued a statement confirming that an internal investigation led by the Speaker was being undertaken to look at all the circumstances that might have led to the accident. The statement said that the municipality, together with Moloekoa, visited the two families whose homes were damaged, to tender their apologies.

“There is also a commitment from the deputy mayor to cover the costs of the repairs to the two properties which has already started and the municipality is in constant contact with the families to check the progress,” said the statement. However, the statement failed to touch on the possible financial implications to the municipality and ultimately the rate-payer as well as other concerns that have surfaced since the accident.

According to the municipality’s Fleet Management Policy, no intoxicating substance may be consumed before and/or whilst driving a council vehicle, translating into not just a violation of this policy but of the Municipal Code of Conduct.

There is also wide speculation on what “official duties” the deputy mayor was engaged in around midnight since he was utilising his official vehicle at the time.

The policy states that the “private use of the vehicle while parked at home will lead to the withdrawal of the privilege and possible disciplinary action. Should an employee / councillor utilise a vehicle for purposes other than official purposes, the necessary disciplinary procedures will be instituted”. Answers to questions were sought from the municipality’s head of communications, Dumisani Thabethe. However, he said that he was unable to answer the questions “within the deadline period”.