A new ANC ward councillor has to make the tough choice of either attending his murder trial on Thursday or the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s first council meeting.
If Vukile Dyele chooses his first council meeting, his lawyers will have to apply for his mob justice murder trial to be postponed.
The ANC took a major bruising in the polls, dropping from its 62-seat majority to 50 seats.
Dyele’s absence from Thursday’s council meeting could have drastic consequences for the ANC as it needs all its councillors present to claw its way back into power.
The ANC needs the support of the EFF, which has six seats, and the remaining smaller parties – COPE, United Front, ACDP, Patriotic Alliance and AIC – to make up the 11 seats needed to reclaim control over the municipality.
It is strongly believed that the UDM – which has two seats – has already sided with the DA.
An application for Dyele, a Ward 29 councillor, to be excused from court on Monday to attend the first council meeting fell by the wayside yesterday, just moments before the judge was about to give her ruling, with the council meeting postponed to Thursday.
A lawyer for Dyele, 38, had earlier told the Port Elizabeth High Court that it was vital for his client to attend the council meeting because the all-important coalitions between the parties had not yet been finalised.
Advocate Richard Crompton asked that the trial – scheduled to continue next week – be postponed at 1.30pm on Monday for Dyele to get to his council meeting “just down the road” by 2pm.
Dyele is accused along with five other Booysen Park residents of the murders of two young men, suspected members of the Big Naz gang.
Lunga Xola and Bulelani Lombo, both 20, were beaten to death in a savage mob justice attack in Booysen Park in May 2013.
The men were supposedly behind several armed robberies in the Greenfields area.
Dyele, Mputhumi Maxela, 45, Siyabulelo Sibhulo, 39, Zalisile Mbolekwa, 53, Ntombizoduma Mletelwa, 32, and Luvuyo Maneli, 42, pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include housebreaking with intent to kidnap, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of murder, public violence, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, two counts of arson and malicious damage to property.
Dyele revealed in court that he had been elected ANC councillor despite the pending case.
ANC leadership confirmed that Dyele would only be removed from his position should he be convicted and sentenced to a period of more than 12 months in prison.
Crompton told Judge Elna Revelas yesterday that the council meeting was of great importance to the city.
His application was vehemently opposed by state advocate Jason Thysse, who said a council meeting could continue without Dyele present.
The two will have to battle it out again on Wednesday ahead of the council meeting, now scheduled for Thursday.
Trial continues on Monday.