DA EThekwini reports Head of Legal Services to the Human Rights Commission

Democratic Alliance media statement by Nicole Graham, Cllr

DA Ethekwini Caucus Leader


DA EThekwini reports Head of Legal Services to the Human Rights Commission


The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini has reported the municipality’s Head of Legal Services, Gideon Phungula, to the Human Rights Commission. I have also written to City Manager Sipho Nzuza to request Phungula’s immediate suspension. Please see the letter here.

Phungula is heard on record having called Deputy City Manager Krish Kumar and other Indian colleagues “coolies”, a highly derogatory and racist term. Phungula repeats the term five times over the course of the conversation with a colleague, who is heard laughing.

In the conversation, Phungula is attempting to protect an official from Supply Chain Management during the course of a disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary hearing stems from the orange bag tender scandal and is long overdue.

Phungula admits, on record, that politics had a role to play in his appointment and that he is taking political instructions, a damning revelation from the head of the city’s legal unit.

The DA welcomes the announcement that President Ramaphosa has authorised an investigation into the orange bag corruption. It is clear, however, that politics is at play behind the scenes in eThekwini and that there is a clear intention from those in power to protect those close to them.

It is believed that the recordings and transcripts are in the possession of the City’s Integrity and Investigation Unit.

The position Phungula holds requires a high level of professionalism, impartiality and ethical conduct. His racist disdain for Indian people, who make up a significant part of Durban’s population, is nothing short of disgraceful.

It is clear for all to see that Phungula is a political appointee who is attempting to subvert processes for his own ends. The DA calls on the City Manager to immediately suspend Phungula, and the Human Rights Commission to investigate his racist utterances.

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