Weapons check, plastic tumblers new safety measures after brawl
Returning to the scene of the crime for the first time since the last chaotic council meeting, Nelson Mandela Bay councillors yesterday apologised for what had transpired and vowed never to repeat the bloody brawl.
There was a subdued mood at yesterday’s special council meeting, in stark contrast to the violent scenes that played out at last month’s gathering which saw two councillors admitted to hospital.
Plastic jugs and tumblers replaced the glass ones after councillors Rano Kayser (DA) and Rosie Daaminds (ANC) were injured when glass jugs were hurled about on October 27.
Security was notably tighter, with councillors and members of the public scanned for weapons.
A few security officers were stationed inside the chamber, which is unusual for a Bay council meeting.
Entry into the Woolboard Exchange building was controlled and members of the public were given access cards.
ANC councillor Siphiwo Plaatjies, who tried to enter the chamber with his cup of coffee, was stopped by security officers, who said glass objects were not allowed inside.
Each party condemned last month’s violence, saying all councillors should ensure it never happened again.
ANC caucus leader Bicks Ndoni blamed speaker Jonathan Lawack, saying he should have controlled councillors on the day.
“We are of the view that the incident could not have happened if the speaker handled the debate properly,” he said.
“However, the ANC regrets the embarrassing incident that took place on October 27.
“This chamber must avoid this happening again.”
The DA’s Nqaba Bhanga said the behaviour of councillors at the contentious meeting had turned into a national debate.
“What reflected at the last council is not emulative of the values of our freedom fighters. If this house cannot respect these values, this will spill out to our communities,” Bhanga said.
The EFF’s Lukhanyo Mrara said: “Whoever is responsible must be held accountable. We do not own this council, it belongs to the people of Nelson Mandela Bay. We must never use this house to drive personal agendas.
“We clearly degenerated on the day. Councillors, be honourable.”
Patriotic Alliance councillor Marlon Daniels said: “We believe we should focus on tolerance, there is no justification for what happened here.
“This incident was exclusively between the DA coalition and the ANC. There was action by one and equally so a reaction by the other. All the councillors’ lives were put at risk by this barbaric and unjustifiable behaviour.”
The ACDP’s Lance Grootboom said:“I hope this council will never again degenerate into this conduct.”
Mayor Athol Trollip said: “I take responsibility for that day. I am the mayor of this city, the buck stops with me, and I am embarrassed that we embarrassed ourselves in that way.”
The police, meanwhile, are still investigating all the cases the DA and ANC councillors opened against each other.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the only charge that had been withdrawn by the senior public prosecutor was that of the gunshot fired in the council chambers.
“The remaining cases, which include two assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm cases and three assault common cases, are still with the prosecutor to decide on how to proceed with the cases.”
National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Tsepo Ndwalaza said the dockets were with the senior public prosecutor.