Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga addressing media on the disruptions of his State of the Capital Address. Video: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA
Pretoria – Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) Chief Steve Ngobeni led his charges in blatantly defying instructions from Tshwane Council Speaker Rachel Mathebe as members of the opposition African National Congress ran amok, attacking fellow councillors and damaging property, Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga said on Tuesday.

"Before the State of the Capital Address (SOCA), we had a series of meetings after getting intelligence that there are planned disruptions. We had a meeting with the Chief of the Metro Police relating to that intelligence. We indicated to him to him that we wanted all precautionary measures taken, to ensure that the running of the event would go without a glitch. We got an undertaking that everything has been put in place," Msimanga said while addressing a media briefing in Centurion.

"When we went into the chambers as had been declared by the Speaker, we had disruptions from the first moment. The leader of the opposition (ANC) called for a moment of a silence and he made an undertaking that we would proceed after the moment of silence. After the moment of silence, one of his colleagues decided that they were not going to allow the proceedings to continue. They decided to hijack the whole thing and make it a Solomon Mahlangu event."

Msimanga said the ANC councillors threatened to destroy the sound system if they were not given an opportunity to speak.

Mathebe adjourned the sitting to liaise with the councillors. "What was very telling was when one councillor declared himself the Speaker of Council and actually said on record that this was a coup d'état. You can appreciate that on a day when we are having an official event, for somebody to declaring that this is a government takeover is actually criminal. They declared themselves Speaker and Mayor, without being elected as such," said Msimanga.

As the pandemonium continued in the chambers, Mathebe instructed the TMPD to remove the ANC councillors. Msimanga said Ngobeni was present at that stage.

Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga, flanked by Community Safety MMC Alderman Derrick Kissoonduth and MMC for Corporate and Shared Services Cilliers Brink (white shirt) addressing media on the disruptions of his State of the Capital Address.  Video: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

"This thing was already planned. They (ANC councillors) knew that those we relied on to remove them had been given a counter instruction not to act. We saw that when they started turning the tables upside down. This Chief (Ngobeni) had said if they start damaging property then we will act. We said to him, what more do you want before you start acting on this. He got in his car and drove off," said Msimanga.

Msimanga said Ngobeni was clearly getting instructions from somewhere else.

"He was seen having a chat with an ex-MMC (for safety and security Terrence) Mashego. You start asking yourself where is he (Ngobeni) taking instructions from. Is he taking instructions from a legally elected executive in this city, or is he taking instructions from Luthuli House and also from the ex-MMC? After leaving, we called him to come and deal with the mess that was there," said Msimanga.

"The Metro Police officers there were not sure how to act because the Chief had actually given them a different instruction. I consulted with the city manager and the MMC (for Community Safety) that we would strip him of his delegated power to act on that day and we then asked the deputy chief of police to act as the Chief had clearly failed to act. I had called (State Security Minister) David Mahlobo, acting national police commissioner (Johannes) Phahlane, the (Gauteng) provincial commissioner (Major Gener Deliwe De Lange), I had also called General (Daniel) Mthombeni (Tshwane West Cluster Commander) and none of them were able to tell the commander on the ground to do what was supposed to be done."

Msimanga said it was apparent that party politics was at play at the State of the Capital Address, adding that this was evident on the same day when Phahlane announced that the Save South Africa protest had been denied by the Tshwane municipality.

"We had given an instruction clearly saying the march could proceed without any hindrance. We had communicated with the police chief (Ngobeni) that morning. In the evening we heard that Tshwane had decided to decline or deny permission for the people to march. We had not denied anybody permission to march. There are people using their administrative positions to do the bidding for for those in political offices," said Msimanga.

The mayor said he did not have the power to suspend Ngobeni. "Only council can suspend him, and we are looking at our options right now on how we can convene council to take this matter forward. That is a matter that will be dealt with at the next possible date of council sitting," said Msimanga.

Tshwane MMC for Community Safety, Alderman Derrick Kissoonduth, said the Save SA march on Friday last week was "one of the most peaceful marches that we have had in this city thus far".

He said permission has already been granted for the National Day of Action anti-Zuma protest incorporating numerous opposition political parties scheduled for Wednesday in Pretoria.

African News Agency