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Lungisa and Maqula trial over 2016 Council brawl to start next week

Aug 3, 2017
Lungisa and Maqula trial over 2016 Council brawl to start next week

The case of assault against Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality African National Congress (ANC) councillors, Andile Lungisa, and Gamalihleli Maqula, will be heard in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court from next week.

Lungisa, who is the ANC Nelson Mandela Bay Chairman, and Maqula made a brief court appearance on Wednesday at the court on charges of assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm following a violent brawl during a Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality council meeting in October 2016.

Lungisa and Maqula, who remain out on R1 000 bail each, will be back on the 10th of August for the pre-trial hearing.

As a result of that brawl, DA Chief Whip, Werner Senekal, and Mayoral Committee member for Roads and Transport, Rano Kayser, were injured. Kayser had to be rushed to hospital bleeding from a huge gush on his head after apparently being hit by a glass water jug by Lungisa. Senekal was allegedly stabbed in the back with a sharp object by Maqula.

Reports suggest that trouble began when the ANC, which is now in opposition, objected to an item on the municipality's confidential green paper.

In the ensuing chaos, glass water jugs were thrown at Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, the Speaker and Councillors.

An ANC female Councillor collapsed in the mayhem and was also ferried to hospital.

Port Elizabeth police had to be called in to restore order after a security guard fired two warning shots while trying to control the fighting Councillors.

Kayser and Senekal later laid charges against Lungisa and Maqula.

Death threats

Last week Tuesday, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, revealed that he had written to Eastern Cape Premier, Phumulo Masualle, and Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, after Kayser and Senekal received verified serious threats on their lives - possibly because they had laid charges against the Lungisa and Maqula.

According to the Mayor, the death threats were sent to the Senekal and Kayser via SMS and the DA-led coalition were not taking chances by laying criminal charges against those behind the threats.

“When we were elected, our aim was for the NMB to be a safe city and these people have an important role to play in making this city a safer place. We want to be clear that we will not tolerate such threats in the Metro,” Trollip told reporters. 

The Mayor said that by putting the word out to the public about the death threats, they want to show whoever is sending out these threats that they will not be intimidated into silence.

“By putting this to the public, maybe we can save lives and stop these death threats," he described.

According to the Mayor, the threats read: There are people hired to kill you just like that woman from Nkonkobe Municipality - in reference to the murder of the Speaker of the Raymond Mhlaba Local Council, Thozama Njobe, who was gunned down on Monday last week, for reportedly standing in the way of corruption.

“We believe in law and order and I fully regret that my colleagues have been put into such vulnerable position,” Trollip said. 

He said then that Port Elizabeth police are still investigating the matter.

The ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay also came out condemning the alleged death threats.

"Violent conduct or death threats of this kind can never have a place in our democracy. The ANC believes that the rule of the law cannot be strengthened by breaking the law," said regional spokesperson, Gift Ngqondi.

He however, warned the DA-led coalition to stop making "these reckless statements of insinuating that our Councilors are involved in these so-called death threats without any tangible evidence".

"Knowing the DA, with their tendency to run to the courts at the slightest smoke screen, if they had any evidence against the ANC and its leaders with regards to these alleged death threats, they would have gone to court," Ngqondi hit back.

"We have condemned the 27 October 2016 Council fracas, but for the DA to cite that incident as the motive for the threats is irresponsible, childish and rejects any insinuation of involvement of our councilors. These DA political juveniles must provide tangible information" that supported their allegations.

"We reject these hollow allegations by these public sympathy seeking political pop starts of the DA Coalition. The ANC condemns this abuse of media houses and public with the hope of a confrontation and headlines.

"We have confidence that the SAPS will do everything possible to bring the perpetrators before the courts."

The ANC called on people with information, which can assist the SAPS with their investigations, to come forward.

"For its part, the ANC will not involve itself in reckless speculation about who carried out the death threats," said Ngqondi.

"The ANC calls for a calm and sober approach to be adopted - one in which the SAPS is given every form of assistance to bring the perpetrators to book."