The country’s oldest councillor‚ 90-year old Mthuthuzeli Spelman – and three fellow EFF councillors – were forcibly removed from a Mbizana council meeting in the Eastern Cape for allegedly flouting the dress code.
The councillors were ejected by security personnel on Monday after they were deemed to have been dressed inappropriately for the meeting.
Spelman and fellow councillors Nwabisa Langasiki‚ Penelope Sobhoyi and Lungiswa Nqodi were wearing their party’s trademark red overalls and gumboots at the meeting.
TMG Digital is in possession of a video clip taken at the meeting which showed security guards pleading with Spelman to leave the council chamber.
When he resisted‚ two guards approached his seat and dragged him and others out of the chamber.
Speaking to TMG Digital on Wednesday‚ Spelman said that just before the meeting began “one of several ANC councillors” mocked them about their gumboots‚ allegedly saying they were smelly.
“When we raised a complaint with council speaker (Simphiwe Magini)‚ he did not allow us to speak‚ but instead ordered that we be removed as we were allegedly dressed inappropriately‚” he said.
“The speaker told us that we flouted the council’s standing rules on dress code and that we should not be allowed back in council unless we changed our overalls‚” Spelman said.
He added there was no such rule in the council policies “as it is only jeans‚ shorts‚ T-shirts and sneakers that are listed as prohibited clothing in our council‚ nothing about overalls and gumboots”.
“We are not happy about what the speaker did. It was humiliating and embarrassing and it lowered our dignity. It really made us a laughing stock‚” a clearly agitated Spelman said.
Spelman‚ born in 1926 and the father of 10‚ grandfather of 15 and great grandfather of four‚ is a well-known community leader in the area who took part in the Ngquza Hill revolt of 1960.
Contacted on Wednesday‚ Magini said he was in a meeting and promised to call back but had not done so by the time of writing.
Langasiki said they felt “so undermined and humiliated” by the action they had reported the matter to their party leadership.
“We are going to challenge this unconstitutional action‚ even if it means taking the matter to court.
“We just cannot let this slip away‚ because if we do‚ they will continue to mistreat us as we are minority in council‚” Langasiki said.
Langasiki‚ together with two other EFF councillors‚ were on Wednesday also sworn-in at Alfred Nzo district municipality council‚ where they were once again shown the door.
Moments after their swearing-in at Alfred Nzo‚ the trio were ordered to leave council chambers due to their “unacceptable” dress code. This is not the first time EFF councillors have been removed from Eastern Cape municipalities’ chambers since the local government elections.
Similar action has been taken in Ngcobo‚ King Sabatha Dalindyebo‚ Ngquza Hill municipalities and at recent OR Tambo District Municipal council meetings.