'This was a brutal job': outgoing Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba

20 November 2019 - 12:38
By Aphiwe Deklerk
Herman Mashaba admits that there was an intensive learning process when he was elected mayor of Joburg in 2016.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali Herman Mashaba admits that there was an intensive learning process when he was elected mayor of Joburg in 2016.

Outgoing Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba says his job as the first citizen of SA’s biggest metro was the most rewarding.

Mashaba, who is due to step down as mayor next week after his resignation from the DA following Helen Zille's election as DA federal council chairperson, spoke glowingly about how he turned around the metro police department in the city.

He was speaking during the release of the city’s monthly crime stats on Wednesday.

“This has been the most rewarding job any human being can have, brutal as it was .... This was a brutal job, running a seven-way multiparty government,” said Mashaba.

He said he had to learn quickly when he was elected in 2016, with no experience or knowledge of how councils were run.

Mashaba said in the past three years, to get some sleep, he had to take sleeping tablets because the job was tough.

But he praised the turnaround of the Johannesburg metro police department (JMPD), saying his administration had managed to free the officers from political interference. He hoped the incoming political leadership, to be elected next week, would continue with that support.

“For you to be able to do your job, you are going to need political support, political support that does not really interfere with the work that you do. They have got to allow you to operate within the law,” said Mashaba.

He said when his administration took over, it found a demoralised metro police, but took steps to beef up capacity and recruited 1,500 officers.

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“For me, I really strongly believe in the application of the rule of law,” said Mashaba. 

He felt demoralised by the state of the metro police when he took over, because they were being called all kinds of names, even crooks.

“To destroy a country, the first thing politicians do is to destroy the criminal justice system,” he said.

He added that he would keep fighting for a city like Johannesburg to have its own prosecution arm to deal with criminals.

“We sometimes arrest one person three, four, five times, but I am hoping that one day, one day it’s going to happen. It might happen in two years' time, it might be five years' time, but one thing I know is it is going to happen,” said Mashaba.

He said JMPD officers should know that their job was not to go out to the streets and ask people for “Cokes”.