Footage of city councillor Ian Iversen, right, allegedly assaulting a ratepayer. Other councillors present say he was severely provoked.

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town councillor accused of assaulting a protesting ratepayer was “severely provoked”, it has been alleged.

The charge is against Ian Iversen, chairman of subcouncil 20, which includes Newlands, Rondebosch, Kenilworth and Claremont.

He and other members of the subcouncil were inspecting a property in Torquay Avenue, in Upper Claremont, where the owner, Simon Mantell, had been trying to gain planning permission for gabion work.

A resident of nearby Wynberg, Darron Araujo, a drama lecturer at UCT, became entangled in a physical flare-up with Iversen.

Iversen told the Cape Argus he had been advised not to comment until formal investigations had been concluded.

But Matthew Kempthorne, ward councillor for Ward 58, told 567MW Cape Talk on Thursday that Iversen “realised that although he was severely provoked, he had reacted inappropriately”.

In a letter to the Cape Argus, he and fellow subcouncil 20 members Carol Bew, Jan Burger, Penelope East and Phindile Maxiti alleged that the protesters’ presence “was certainly no coincidence”.

“The fact that they were recording the encounter and accompanied by a journalist seems to point toward a carefully thought out plan to goad and harass us with the specific purpose of eliciting a reaction,” the councillors wrote.

“They followed us, and Mr Araujo continued his badgering, reading from a list of prepared questions and, quite frankly, invading councillor Iversen’s personal space in a persistent and aggressive manner that was nothing short of bad political theatre.

“One can only conclude that this grandstanding behaviour was designed to be provocative, and not to achieve any constructive outcome. They are clearly pursuing a malicious agenda based on personal animosity and will use any means possible to further it.”

Araujo said he had been trying hard to put questions to Iversen, without success.

Speaker Dirk Smit said: “I can confirm that a formal complaint has been received. Information and evidence will be gathered, collated and considered in due process for evaluation and appropriate action.”

Araujo and Iversen have filed complaints of assault against each other.

Cape Argus