‘Crime is crime no matter who is involved,’ says Phalatse on charges against ANC councillors

Johannesburg executive mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse hoped charges against EFF and ANC members would send a clear message against criminality involving councillors. The affected ANC councillors have not been named.

Four DA councillors from the City of Johannesburg metro have laid charges of physical assault against fellow ANC councillors after they allegedly pushed them at the chaotic council meeting on Thursday evening.

Phalatse confirmed council speaker Vasco da Gama and council chief whip Tyrell Meyers accompanied the DA councillors to the Hillbrow police station to lay the criminal charges on Friday.

The four were MMC for group corporate and shared services, Leah Knott, MMC for development planning, Belinda Echeozonjoku, Michael Son (environment and infrastructure) and DA ward councillor Stuart Marais. They laid charges of physical assault and had submitted video footage on which the charges were based at the police station as evidence.

ALSO READ: Joburg Mayor to lay criminal charges against ANC and EFF councillors

The alleged assault occurred during the chaotic council meeting after the ANC and EFF councillors demanded a secret instead of an open ballot to vote for council chair of chairs and section 79 committee chairpersons. But Da Gama as speaker did not allow it saying it was not provided in the council rules and the Municipal Structures Act.

He said only the speaker, executive mayor and chief whip were elected via secret ballot, not chair of chairs and committee chairs. The vote was to be by show of hands.

The ANC, which insisted on the public voting method, was supported by the EFF and a cluster of small minority parties against the DA-led governing coalition’s position for an open ballot. The ANC/EFF collaborate in the meeting surprised many as the red berets vowed never to work with the ANC in future and after assisting to vote it out in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane metros last November.

Phalatse said the ANC councillors came forward to the DA side of the chamber and began pushing the councillors. The confrontation was shown on different video footage published in media and social media platforms.

DA chief of staff Mike Moriarty said the video footage was examined before the charges were laid and the councillors made affidavits to back up the charges they laid.

Phalatse said the matter would also be taken to the ethics committee of the council so that the affected ANC councillors were charged in council. But that would have to wait until the section 79 committees were elected.

“We do hope there will be grave consequences for the councillors involved. Criminal charges are important to lay because people think criminality is the order of the day and they made it a norm.

“We really want to send a message that crime is crime no matter who is involved. Councillors need to know that when they come to work they are safe at work,” Phalatse said.

She said council security cluster was working to tighten security at the next council meeting on Tuesday where the election of chair of chairs and chairperson of section-79 committee would be finalised.


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