From left: Chief Whip of Council, Werner Senekal, Executive Mayor Athol Trollip, Councillor Rano Kayser (Roads and Transport) and Councillor John Best (Safety and Security).
PORT ELIZABETH – Two Nelson Mandela Bay DA councillors received “verified death threats via SMS”.
The death threats are allegedly linked to an ongoing criminal case against two ANC councillors, Andile Lungisa and Gamalihleli Maqula, who have been charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The charges against Maqula and Lungisa relate to a violent brawl which broke out during a council meeting in October last year.
It is alleged that Maqula stabbed the council's Chief Whip, Werner Senekal, in the back with a sharp object while Lungisa apparently hit DA councillor, Rano Kayser, with a glass jug over his head during a council meeting which turned chaotic.
Volumes of blood were seen in photographs which circulated on social media as the council chambers turned into a conflict zone.
Following the incident, Senekal and Kayser both laid criminal charges against the two ANC councillors and the men were arrested.
Senekal and Kayser were identified as the two targets of an alleged hit at an urgent media briefing called by the metro at the Port Elizabeth fire station on Tuesday.
Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, said that the matter was first brought to his attention last week Thursday and the police were currently investigating.
“The South African Police Service believe that this may be linked to the two metro councillors facing charges of attempted murder and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
“These charges arose from criminal cases by both councillors Senekal and Kayser after the infamous council meeting on 27 October, where both councillors were assaulted with dangerous objects,” said Trollip.
Pressed for more information on the nature of the alleged threats, Trollip said that there was “direct information there is a contract or hit team to do the work” adding that there were continued concerns over the safety of members of his Mayoral Committee team.
“There are precautions that have been put into place; both the councillors have got security details attached to them to monitor their security.”
Trollip said that he had written to the Eastern Cape Premier, Phumulo Masualle, informing him of the situation, and also intended to write to the Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula.
“Whatever the case may be, the following is certain - no amount of intimidation or plotting will deter us from leading this city... we want to put this in the public space in hope that it will counter these threats to the councillors’ lives. We want to prevent any tragedies,” said Trollip.
Meanwhile, the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay condemned the alleged death threats made against Senekal and Kayser but slammed the DA coalition government for insinuating that ANC councillors were involved.
ANC regional spokesperson, Gift Nqondi, said that violent conduct or death threats had no place in democracy.
“The DA Coalition must stop these reckless statements of insinuating that our councillors are involved in these so-called death threats without any tangible evidence.
“Knowing the DA, with their tendency to run to the courts at the slightest smoke screen, if they had any evidence against the ANC and its leaders with regards to these alleged death threats, they would have gone to court,” said Nqondi.
Lungisa and Maqula are due back in court on Monday.