WE BEGAN the week on a very sad note after we received news that our colleague ward 99 Councillor Mnqobi Molefe was gunned down in the early hours of Monday morning on 12 September. As we lower our revolutionary banner for Councillor Molefe, we call on law enforcement agencies to work tirelessly to find his killers. On behalf of the people of eThekwini, particularly residents of ward 99, we convey our deepest condolences to the Molefe family. We trust that they will find strength in knowing that his untimely death is not only a loss for the family, but the entire Municipality.
We will continue to honour his memory by changing lives of eThekwini residents. On 11 September we convened a Mayoral Imbizo to outline the City’s commitment to improving the lives of residents in ward 23. Residents highlighted housing, unemployment, refuse collection, sewage, and a lack of recreational facilities and schools in the community as some of the key challenges. During our engagement, we committed to resolving these challenges.
A highlight of this week was welcoming President Cyril Ramaphosa who was in the province as part of an investment oversight drive. President Ramaphosa officiated the launch of the Hesto Harnesses manufacturing facility in KwaDukuza and the opening of the Sappi Saiccor Mill upgrade and expansion project in Umkomaas.
The new Hesto Harnesses facility will produce wiring harnesses for the latest Ford Ranger and Isuzu models, which will be sold locally and abroad. This has created over 4 000 job opportunities in the region, more than doubling Hesto’s youthful staff complement which boasts 70 percent female representation. The visit by President Ramaphosa was preceded by the City’s Executive Committee’s oversight visit to agri-park facilities funded by the City. The oversight visit aimed to assess progress made since the Municipality implemented the eThekwini Agribusiness Master Plan in February 2020.
It was encouraging to see that the Municipality’s investment has unlocked over 1 300 new jobs with a total of 49 small, medium, and micro enterprises benefiting from the Agribusiness programme. It is with excitement that we can report that the Cato Ridge Agri-Park, that produces chicken and lamb, now has the capacity to produce over 30 000 chickens per cycle and is able to accommodate 100 lambs per three-month cycle. The Cottonland Agri-Park provides contract grower opportunities for small-scale egg producers within eThekwini.
The City also embarked on a Mechanisation Support Programme. Under this programme, the Municipality procured seven tractors which were put to good use as 2 800 hectares were ploughed in the past three years.