Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba. Picture: Newcastle Municipality.
Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba. Picture: Newcastle Municipality.

ANC demands clarity from eMalahleni region after Newcastle mayor is criminally charged with assault

By Sihle Mavuso Time of article published Jul 28, 2021

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Durban - The provincial secretary of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, Mdumiseni Ntuli, has written to the eMalahelni region demanding to be furnished with more information regarding the assault charges and prosecution of regional chairperson and Newcastle mayor, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba.

The confirmation that Ntuli has written to the region came from the provincial spokesperson of the ANC, Nhlakanipho Ntombela yesterday, Tuesday, when he was asked by Independent Media whether or not Mahlaba would step aside as he is now criminally charged and there is a standing party resolution that such members are undesirable to serve on the ticket of the ruling party.

Ntombela said like everybody else, they only got to know about Mahlaba's pending case via the media and they have since demanded more information from the region so that they could act based on full disclosure.

"We heard the news when the media broke it and the provincial secretary has since written to the region asking it to furnish him with more detailed information about the matter. For now, we don't have much information," Ntombela said.

Mahlaba was on Monday slapped with an assault charge and is accused of assaulting a private installer of fibre optic while the man was doing his work on September 3, 2020.

Mahlaba, who was being driven by his bodyguards, allegedly assaulted the unnamed man when he spoke back to the mayor after he asked why they were continuing to instal fibre when they had been told to stop, because local residents complained that the work was disrupting water and electricity services and the municipality had instructed them to halt their work.

He was allegedly assisted by his bodyguards, who have also been charged with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, malicious damage to property and theft, and told to return to court on August 26.

After Independent Media asked Mahlaba about the arrest and whether he was going to step aside, his spokesperson, Mlungisi Khumalo, denied that his boss had been arrested; but he had been asked to present himself in court.

“The Newcastle Municipality would like to categorically state that Newcastle Mayor Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba was not arrested, but was summoned to present himself to court over an allegation which was made against him. As a law-abiding citizen, the mayor swiftly presented himself in court yesterday, July 26, 2021.

“The mayor also views the allegation as malicious, frivolous and without substance. He also looks forward to going to court to clear his name, so that he can ultimately distance himself from the said allegation. In the interim, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba continues to serve the residents of Newcastle and pleads with people to allow the law to take its course,” Khumalo said.

Mahlaba is one of the few staunch and open KZN supporters of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa. Ahead of the Nasrec conference in 2017, he was able to sway the region away from the province, which supported Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and backed Ramaphosa, who eventually won the contest.

In September 2019, Mahlaba was shown in a widely circulated video engaging in a fist fight with municipal workers who were striking over delays in the payment of their overtime money. During the scuffle, he was hit with a brick, and his bodyguards joined the fight. They were later separated.

Political analyst, Xolani Dube, said the ANC resolution on stepping aside is clear that once you are criminally charged, you must step aside even if one feels the offence is insignificant. In the case of Mahlaba, Dube said Ntuli and his colleagues in the provincial headquarters have no leg to stand on and they have to serve Mahlaba with a letter to step aside or else the resolution would be seen as aimed at certain individuals within the ruling party.

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