Port Elizabeth – The Nelson Mandela Bay municipal council session descended into chaos, after glasses were hurled with at least one councillor sustaining a serious head injury.
The raging fight at the Woolboard Exchange Building was finally disrupted when a security guard allegedly fired a gunshot into the ceiling after rushing into the main hall to see what the commotion was.
Two counsellors, Democratic Alliance counsellor and member of the Mayoral Council, Rano Kayser, and ANC councillor Rosie Daemons, were both taken to hospital after the incident. Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip said Kayser had sustained a serious head injury. He said Daemons had apparently fainted, although he did also see blood on her face.
Photos show Kayser, with blood covering the front of his shirt from a gash in his head, and later having his head bandaged and being placed on oxygen. Daemons is also seen being stretchered out.
Key on the agenda at the council meeting was the appointment of a new city manager. Vuyo Mlokoti has been appointed and will take up his position from December 1, taking over from acting city manager, Johann Mettler.
The fight however broke out during a closed session where councillors were discussing an issue relating to the disruption of the Integrated Development Plan meetings being conducted across the Metro.
The specific incident to be discussed was apparently when ANC councillor Xola Sabani tried to hijack a meeting at the Nangoza Jebe Hall on September 29.
Trollip described how, during the discussion disruptions started.
“The city manager asked two councillors to leave, they were in breach of a number of regulations. They refused to do that. They refused to leave when the city manager and security asked them to leave.
“At that stage two councillors, councillors [Makhi] Feni and councillor [Andile] Lungisa, approached the speaker’s table. They went up with the intention to intimidate and even assault the speaker. There is footage of one of those councillors assaulting a member of the mayoral committee member [Kayser] with a glass jug, a big heavy glass jug,” he said.
Trollip said other ANC councillors had hurled glasses at other councillors.
“I want to say that this must be the lowest point in the history of this council. I want to say that having shots fired means we cannot reach lower depths. I have no doubt that if shots had not been fired into the ceiling, what would have ensued would have been much worse than what we saw this afternoon.”
‘Councillor seen with a knife’
Speaking outside, ANC Regional Task Team spokesperson, Gift Ngqondi, said the shot had been fired by the chief whip, Werner Senekal, and said the ANC would be seeking to press charges against him.
Trollip however categorically denied this, saying the shots had been fired by a security guard.
“The shot was not fired by chief whip Werner Senekal. There is an investigation. The round cartridge is available and will identify which firearm it came from,” he said.
Trollip said that Senekal had been stabbed in the back by a sharp object during the ruckus and had not had a firearm.
“One of the ANC councillors was seen with a knife in the council chamber. We do not bring firearms to council. We don’t bring weapons to council,” he said.
Trollip said steps would be taken to upgrade security at the council.