Two ANC councillors believed to have been instrumental in the violent brawl that erupted at a Nelson Mandela Bay council meeting last week have been told to turn themselves in to police.
ANC councillor Andile Lungisa was identified by investigators through cellphone video footage as allegedly being the man who hit DA councillor Rano Kayser over the head with a glass water jug during the meeting on Thursday afternoon.
It was reliably learnt yesterday that Lungisa and Ward 19 councillor Gamalihleli Maqula were contacted by police and told to turn themselves in.
However, Maqula is believed to have told police he was out of town.
Conflicting statements from councillors and other witnesses have stalled the investigation, forcing police to rely on video footage to determine exactly what had transpired.
It is understood that Lungisa was told by detectives to report to the Humewood police station this morning.
Police will also check if Maqula is, in fact, out of town.
If Lungisa hands himself over, he will be taken to the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court to be formally charged.
Both councillors will be charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
Contacted for comment yesterday, both councillors denied having been told by investigators to turn themselves in.
Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg confirmed that two councillors had been told by the investigators to report to the police station in the morning, but one had claimed to be out of town.
She refused to name the councillors, saying it was not police policy to identify suspects before they had been charged in court.
“The investigation has been completed and the National Prosecuting Authority has also given input on how to proceed,” Janse van Rensburg said.
“I can confirm that two councillors were told to hand themselves over but that one stated he was out of town,” she said.
“Should the other one hand himself over [today], and abide by the instructions of the detectives, he will be taken to court.” Asked what would happen if the two failed to hand themselves over, Janse van Rensburg said the police would be forced to search for them.
She declined to elaborate further on the case.
On the evening of the fight, both DA and ANC officials involved opened criminal cases against each other for investigation – with the latest being opened on Friday afternoon.
The cases varied from assault and intimidation to assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
While police have officially remained tight-lipped, several sources have called the footage “damning” and “overwhelming”, with glasses and jugs seen flying around the council chamber.
Maqula said yesterday: “I did not get a call from [the] police. I don’t have a case.
“Did they say on what case? No, even those who are my friends did not call me.”
Lungisa said the police should also tell Kayser to turn himself in.
“I did not get a call from them [police],” he said.
“But I am interested to find out if they are also looking for Rano, whom I opened a case against.
“Was Rano assaulted sitting in his chair? Why are they not also looking for him?
“Or else they have decided to take a political side as the Humewood police and deal with this on racial lines.”
The footage shows Lungisa and ANC councillor Makhi Feni near the speaker’s bench in an argument with Kayser.
The fight then spiralled out of control, with a warning shot fired.
In another video that surfaced recently, showing the area outside the chamber, a man, believed to be Maqula, is seen with his back to the camera.
The man lunges at chief whip Werner Senekal as Senekal tries to escape a confrontation with other councillors.
During the chaos, the man leans over a crowd of people and appears to jab something into Senekal’s back or shoulder.
The footage then shows the man jumping back while Senekal is ushered inside the council chamber.
Witnesses to the attack have since come forward to the police.
Senekal confirmed he had opened a case with the police on Friday, saying he had been injured in his back.
He declined to discuss the details of the attack, saying it was in the hands of the police.