Mduduzi Manana Photo: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Former deputy minister of higher education Mduduzi Manana may get away with a heavy fine and a suspended sentence after admitting to assaulting three women in an altercation at a club in Fourways last month. 

Manana made the admission in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday when he appeared over the assault of Noluthando Mahlaba, Mandisa Duma and Thina Mopipa at the Cubana club.

He was convicted on the three counts. 

Witnesses said the attack followed a spat over the ANC’s succession battle, which culminated in Manana allegedly being labelled as gay.

A video clip of the assault went viral on social media and resulted in an apology from Manana. He also resigned from his post as deputy minister.

Some university students flocked to the court to show their support for the disgraced politician yesterday. A group of students wearing T-shirts said he deserved a second chance.

This was condemned by DA Student Organisation members, who expressed shock at the support for Manana. 

But the drama didn’t end there, as two more suspects linked to the assault were arrested while Manana’s case was under way. 

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwana said one suspect was arrested after Manana’s victim pointed him out to the police.

The other one was told to hand himself over before the end of business yesterday, which he did, she said.

Both men were due to appear in court today, where they were to face similar charges to Manana.

After a delay and several changes in the court venue, a smartly dressed Manana arrived, looking relaxed and confident in a navy suit and white shirt. 

His lawyer Michael Motsoeneng Bill confirmed that Manana had decided to plead guilty to the three counts of assault. 

In his plea explanation, read out by Bill, the former deputy minister said he and his friends were sitting on a couch in the Cubana lounge where the incident occurred. 

He said he didn’t know how the women ended up sitting with their group, as the women were initially sitting a few couches away. 

“At some point there appeared to be a debate which resulted in a rowdy argument. 

“The argument appeared to be related to someone trying to stop one of these three ladies from taking video footage of me,” said Manana.

He was then asked by one of the women, Mahlaba: “Who do you think you are, you isitabane (gay).”

He said that after this he intentionally assaulted Mahlaba with an open hand in her face and on her back.

He also pulled her hair, pulled her to the ground, kicked and punched her.

 A fight then ensued, during which he admitted to also assaulting Duma and Mopipa.

Manana assaulted Mopipa by grabbing her by her hair and throwing her on the ground before moving on to Duma, who he punched, slapped and kicked. 

The case was postponed to November 7, when Manana is to be sentenced. Bail was extended.