Cape Town - A DA councillor was ejected from a Stellenbosch council meeting, after he was alleged to have slapped an opposition councillor to the ground for allegedly calling him the k-word.
The Stellenbosch municipality confirmed on Thursday that the incident occurred during Wednesday’s council meeting.
Both councillors have approached the police to open cases.
Municipality spokesman, Vernon Bowers, said DA councillor Nyaniso Jindela slapped councillor André van der Walt from the Sibanye Civic Association (SCA), previously known as the Stellenbosch Civic Association.
Bowers said the incident came after Van der Walt described Jindela as “you stupid”.
Van der Walt withdrew his comments after Speaker Cyril Jooste requested him to do so.
But, moments later, while Van der Walt and Jindela were getting coffee in the council chambers, the DA councillor slapped the SCA councillor.
The municipality said Jindela had claimed he was provoked, with Van der Walt allegedly saying: “You’re a dom (stupid) k****r”.
Jindela further claimed he “instinctively reacted and slapped him (Van der Walt)”.
But Derrick Hendrickse, of the SCA, branded the attack as a cowardly act perpetrated by someone who was not fit for public office.
Hendrickse said he had written to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, Local Government MEC Anton Bredell and Stellenbosch mayor, Conrad Sidego to raise the SCA’s concern about the alleged assault.
In an e-mail to the municipality, Hendrikse noted that none of the senior council representatives even bothered to condemn the incident.
“Not one word has been said about this barbaric and cowardly act of assault that took place. It is noted with regret that even you, Mr Mayor, have already sided with councillor Jindela,” he wrote.
And Hendrickse said he found it strange that officials within earshot of the pair did not hear the alleged racial slur, while the DA members claimed they had heard it.
“I now allege that the DA has super hearing. We as SCA will not allow that the DA use this unbecoming and cowardice (sic) act by Jindela to discredit Van der Walt as a racist,” Hendrickse said.
He added that their councillor vehemently denied using the k-word.
Hendrickse, who was present during the council meeting, said the debate in the council involved issues of financial deviations, alleged corruption and political instructions to erect fencing in the Kayamandi township.
“The association requested council recordings and the CCTV footage of the council meeting to prove the innocence of their councillor.”
But Hendrickse said he would not be surprised if the video footage was suddenly not available.
Bredell said the incident was unfortunate.
“More discipline and order is needed from public representatives.”
Bredell said the Speaker of the council, who was in charge of the code of conduct for councillors, would be investigating the matter.
Police confirmed that separate cases of crimen injuria and common assault were opened for investigation at the Stellenbosch police.
“Both cases are at this stage under investigation,” said police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk.