Clr Bongani Nkomo is the newly-appointed councillor for ward 32.
Clr Nkomo is 26 years old and began his career by placing posters and packing boxes for the DA’s 2009 campaign. He worked as a volunteer.
From there, Clr Nkomo was awarded a three month contract as a community operations manager. His contract was subsequently extended to a seven month contract and finally, he became a permanent employee.His duties included conducting door-to-door community consultations.
“It was a good example because it humbled me; in the DA you are never just given anything. It taught me a valuable lesson; in order to get to a certain level, you have to earn what you are given. That made me value my opportunities in life,” said Clr Nkomo.
After three years of ground-work in the DA, the young man is a now ward councillor, who hit the ground running.
Top of the to-do list for Clr Nkomo is to reduce the level of crime across ward 32’s six suburbs, which include Modderfontein, Buccleuch, Linbro Park, Alexandra Ext 7, Greenstone and Klipfontein View.
“Irrespective of how different these suburbs are, they have one common problem, and that is crime. It affects everybody. From an old lady walking on the street to a lawyer returning from work.
“The nature of the crimes differs per area, with more violent crimes taking place in Klipfontein View and Alexandra Ext 7,”said Clr Nkomo.
He has a novel approach to tackling crime.
“We have started Whatsapp groups designed to be the eyes and ears of the police and private security companies. In the Whatsapp groups we have members of the community, a police captain and private security personnel. So far it has worked extremely well. There are instances where the SAPS was able to follow up on crime as a result of Whatsapp tip-offs,” said Clr Nkomo.
He said many residents in his ward are committed to eradicating crime.
“There are those who go out to do street patrols at certain times,” he said.
Another top priority of his is health care.
“In Klipfontein View and Ext 7, residents have to travel long distances to get healthcare, sometimes waiting in long lines from the early hours of the morning,” said Clr Nkomo.
He has also assured residents that he will be available at all times when he is needed.
“I attend as many community meetings as I possibly can to familiarise myself with the issues raised. I recently attended a Buccleuch Resident’s Association meeting, where I live, and I had the opportunity to meet community members there,” said Clr Nkomo.
He wants to be a personality in the community rather than just a face.
“I have to be there until people know my car, until people know my face. I am a part of the community I serve; their issues are my issues. I am accountable to the people as I am an elected official. I am working with a lot of residents’ associations,” he said.
Clr Nkomo said the energy and the drive he has brought to the ward will be maintained for the entire period he is in office.
“People have lost their trust in politicians. I have been in meetings where people have not met me, but were already judging me because I am a politician. I think we, as politicians, must start keeping our promises,” he said.
Clr Nkomo looks up to some senior DA members, which includes the shadow minister of labour, Mr Ian Ollis, a member of the National Assembly. Another person he looks up to is Mr Mike Moriarty, a member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.
“These people taught me what to say, when to say it and most of all, that there is no substitute for hard work.”
Clr Nkomo has a Ba in Public Administration, obtained in 2009 and a Diploma in Human Resources, obtained in 2010. Both qualifications were acquired from the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
His current position is far removed from his disadvantaged, rural childhood.
Neither of Clr Nkomo’s parents worked professional jobs; his mother was a domestic worker and his father was a driver.
Clr Nkomo was taken in by his father’s employer, after his father retired.
“I lived with a Jewish lady, Stephanie Hassell and her mother, Mavis Elman. My father worked for her family. When he retired, they took me in to live at their home as their child. They provided me with anything I needed for my education. I became a part of the family.”
“The family put me through primary school, high school and university. I am grateful for their help and they have not asked me for anything in return. They painted me a picture of the person I could become and I believed it,” he said.
He attended Linksfield Primary School, then Sandringham High School and later UJ.
His success has inspired his peers from his hometown of Delmas, in Mpumalanga.
“When I received my university degree, I went back home. Everyone congratulated me. My neighbour came up to me and thanked me for showing others that it was possible to get a degree,” said Clr Nkomo.
He said young people must be persistent when pursuing their dreams.
“In life, nothing is ever given to you. You have to earn it. I made a decision early in life to be the person I wanted to be.”
For now, Clr Nkomo is not planning to make any big political moves, but is rather taking it one day at a time.
“I want to take baby steps and stabilise the ward. I want to create a sense of unity and cohesion,” he said.
“I would like to leave a legacy where the community had a public representative who not only attended to their various issues and challenges, but one who also equipped the community with the information and the ‘know how’ to advance their own issues and challenges.”
Clr Nkomo is inviting the community to contact him directly when they have issues.
He can be reached on 076 9022 699 or at [email protected]