Andile Lungisa assault trial: UDM councillor asks media to be removed
Port Elizabeth - A former United Democratic Movement (UDM) councillor, testifying in the assault case of ANC provincial heavyweight Andile Lungisa at the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court, asked the court to have the media removed on Tuesday morning.
Lungisa and Gamalihleli Maqula, both ANC councillors in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, are facing charges of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The charges relate to a brawl in council chambers on October 27, 2016.
Lungisa is accused of smashing a glass jug over the head of Mayoral Committee Member for Transport Rano Kayser, while Maqula is accused of using a sharp object to stab Werner Senekal in the back. They have pleaded not guilty.
During the second day of the trial, prosecutor Wayne Ludick began to present the evidence against Maqula.
Ludick called former UDM councillor, Mandla Faltein, to testify about a video he had taken that allegedly showed Maqula stabbing Senekal.
Faltein, a previous ward councillor, testified that he had been assisting with administrative duties at the UDM's offices on the first floor of the Woolboard Exchange Building, where council meetings are held. He heard a commotion and proceeded down the stairs and started filming.
In the video, which is not of a good quality, Maqula can be seen coming up behind Senekal and making a stabbing motion with his right hand before being pushed away.
Court asked to remove media
However, after the tea break, Faltein asked Magistrate Morne Cannon to have the media removed because he was not comfortable testifying in their presence.
Cannon asked him to explain, saying it was an open court and the media were allowed to attend proceedings.
But Faltein said he had not asked his political party for permission to testify and said he had seen that the names of other witnesses, who already testified, were mentioned in news reports.
Cannon said that the matter before court was a criminal matter, not a political one, and added that he would not grant the order because Faltein had not given sufficient reasons for his request.
Under cross-examination by defence attorney Luthando Ngqakayi, Faltein initially refused to say who he had given the video to, because he found it difficult to answer in the media's presence.
However, he later said he had handed the video over to Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, DA councillor John Best.
Senekal didn't feel himself being stabbed
Following Faltein's testimony, Senekal testified that, at the time, he was not aware that he had been stabbed.
The court had to adjourn for a few minutes as Senekal became emotional when he was asked to tell the court about the stabbing.
When court resumed, he said he had risen from his seat during the commotion and had gone to the council's main entrance to try and alert security, specifically the speaker's close protection guard, to restore order.
He added that, while he was at the door, a shot went off and he was caught in a throng of people trying to get out of the chamber. He was then confronted by ANC councillors, who accused him of instructing a guard to fire the shot.
Senekal said was escorted back into the chamber by fellow councillors, and it was then that city manager Johan Metler informed him that he had been stabbed.
He said fellow DA councillor Gustav Rautenbach ripped off his shirt to determine the extent of his injuries.
He said he saw his jacket, blazer and shirt had been penetrated, but that he only sustained a minor laceration.
Under cross-examination, Senekal said he could not deny that the injuries could have been sustained while he was caught up in the throng of people at the door or during the confrontation in the foyer of the hall.
He said he kept the clothing in a cupboard in his office, as a reminder of "that dreadful day".
The case continues. News24
Mandela Bay city manager tells court he saw ANC councillor stab chief whip
Port Elizabeth – Nelson Mandela Bay city manager Johann Mettler told the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on Tuesday that he had seen ANC councillor Gamalihleli Maqula allegedly stab the chief whip during a fracas in council in October 2016.
Mettler was testifying in the assault case against Maqula and ANC provincial heavyweight Andile Lungisa.
Mettler took the stand after lunch and told the court he had been inside the chambers when the stabbing allegedly took place.
Mettler, who stands over two metres tall, said he had a clear view of Senekal as he re-entered the chambers, and had seen Maqula, who was behind the chief whip, make a stabbing motion.
"I saw movement behind him and an arm making a rapid downward movement in his direction," he said.
Mettler said that at the same time, Senekal had taken a step forward and made a facial expression, as if in pain.
'I saw what happened'
He said this led him to draw the conclusion that Senekal had been stabbed, and went to assist.
He said when they checked Senekal for injuries, he noticed that his jacket had been perforated on the top right-hand side. He said he also saw a laceration on his back, but no blood.
Under cross-examination from defence attorney Luthando Ngqakayi, Mettler said he did not see anything in Maqula's hand, nor did he see Maqula's hand make contact with Senekal's back.
Asked about Senekal's testimony earlier, that he was not aware of being injured, Mettler said Senekal had probably been in a state of shock.
"I saw what happened. I think it could have been disbelief. You don't come to council expecting to be stabbed by one of your colleagues," he said.
Following Mettler's testimony, court adjourned for the day.
The case is scheduled to resume on Monday, January 29.