Port Elizabeth - Nelson Mandela Bay African National Congress (ANC) councillor Gamalihleli Maqula was acquitted on charges of assault to cause grievous bodily harm in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
Maqula was accused of stabbing council chief whip Werner Senekal with a sharp object during a brawl in council chambers on October 27, 2016.
Maqula was acquitted after the State closed its case and Defence attorney Luthando Ngqakayi brought an application for a discharge in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
This means that if at the close of the State’s case, there is no evidence in which a reasonable man would convict, the court may return a verdict of not guilty.
In handing down judgment, Magistrate Morne Cannon said there was no evidence before the court to convict Maqula, adding that a video taken by former United Democratic Movement (UDM) councillor Mandla Faltein did not carry much weight.
“In my view, the video is not much of assistance to the State on whether [Maqula] stabbed or injured Senekal. In the video it is clear that [Maqula] is unarmed,” said Cannon.
The magistrate said that even when Senekal testified he struggled to identify himself in the video clip.
Cannon said Senekal had conceded that he did not know when, where or who had stabbed him, adding that his injuries could have been sustained on two other occasions during the council brawl.
The court found Senekal also did not see Maqula holding a weapon and not much reliance was placed on his evidence.
Cannon said that Dr Wessel Swart’s evidence merely confirmed that Senekal had sustained an injury, but according to the medical evidence a knife was not likely to have caused the abrasion.
ANC provincial heavyweight Andile Lungisa, who was Maqula's co-accused, was expected to be called to the stand later on Monday to testify.
Lungisa is accused of smashing a glass jug over the head of mayoral committee member for transport, Rano Kayser, during a council meeting that turned chaotic.
African News Agency/ANA