Port Elizabeth - A former United Democratic Movement (UDM) councillor asked the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on Tuesday to have the media removed because he did not have permission from his political party to testify.
Former UDM councillor, Mandla Faltein, was testifying in the assault case against African National Congress (ANC) provincial heavyweight Andile Lungisa and Gamalihleli Maqula, both ANC councillors in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.
The two have pleaded not guilty to charges of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, relating to a brawl in council chambers on October 27, 2016.
Lungisa is accused of smashing a glass jug over the head of mayoral committee member for transport, Rano Kayser, while Maqula is accused of stabbing chief whip Werner Senekal in the back with a sharp object.
In the second day of trial, Prosecutor Wayne Ludick, began to lead evidence against Maqula, and called Faltein to testify in relation to a video he had made during the commotion, that showed Maqula allegedly stabbing Senekal.
The video, which was often blurry and shaky, was recorded by Faltein using his cellphone. In it, a man identified as Maqula is seen coming up behind Senekal, and making a stabbing motion, raising his right hand up and bringing it down on Senekals back, before being pushed away.
During proceedings a nervous Faltein asked to address Magistrate Morne Cannon, and asked that the media be removed, as he was not comfortable testifying in front of them.
Faltein said he had not asked permission from his political party to be in court, and was worried as he had seen that the names of other witnesses who had already testified, mentioned in the press.
Cannon said that the matter before court was a criminal matter, not a political one. He said the court proceedings were open to the public, including the media, and said he could not grant the order, as Faltein had not provided valid reasons.
African News Agency/ANA