An ANC Mpumalanga ward councillor who, together with three others allegedly kidnapped and assaulted a pregnant woman, has “vehemently” denied the allegations against him.
Ward councillor William Phetla, 39, and his alleged accomplices Kholofelo Manola, 31, Lui Nkadimeng, 48, and Thabo Ntuli, 24, were arrested for allegedly kidnapping and assaulting a 29-year-old domestic worker last Tuesday.
In a statement, Phetla said police came to his home and took him to Mhluzi Police station where he co-operated with them.
“On arrival at the Mhluzi police station, we were charged with a case of GBH, and the matter was then referred to Middelburg Magistrate’s Court. We appeared before the magistrate and to our surprise, the prosecutor changed the charge from grievous bodily harm (GBH) to common assault and added a kidnapping charge. Our lawyer made a bail application and the magistrate granted me bail.
“On record I would like to state that I vehemently deny all the charges levelled against me.
“I have been legally advised that any other matter should be directed to my lawyer,” he said.
According to police, Phetla and his alleged accomplices kidnapped and severely assaulted the woman with objects including a garden spade, before they locked her in a room after she allegedly stole a laptop on July 22.
Police spokesperson Selvy Mohlala said that the victim was rescued by community members in the early hours of Tuesday last week.
“The suspects were traced, arrested and had appeared in the Middleburg Magistrate’s Court. Phetla was granted R3 000 bail while his accomplices were granted R500 bail each. The case was postponed until August 25,” said Mohlala.
ANC regional secretary Sello Matshokga said the party was aware of Phetla’s arrest.
“When the docket reached the magistrate, the charges were changed to common assault, we still need to confirm with the police whether the woman was pregnant. As the ANC we condemn the actions, especially violence against women, and we will take disciplinary action.
“We are still waiting for confirmation whether she is pregnant, because we also understand that the woman is a drug addict. As the ANC we are awaiting for the office of the speaker to investigate and we will act. He wasn’t convicted and we are still in contact with him,” he said.
End GBVF Collective volunteer Sixolile Ngcobo condemned the incident.
“There is no justification of what has been done to the woman. In all essence, there are no grounds to assault anyone and it’s really concerning how violence against women has been normalised.
“Whether she was pregnant or not, a drug addict or not, she was violated.
The party needs to take proper action and I’m surprised that they have not,” he said.
Ilitha Labantu spokesperson Siyabulela Monakali said: “Violence perpetrated against women has reached alarming scales and we strongly appeal that those who perpetrated this act be brought to justice as the law should be applied to all everyone,” he said.