Hitmen allegedly hired to take out Mandela Bay councillors

2017-07-25 15:14
Violence in Nelson Mandela Bay. (Supplied, file)

Violence in Nelson Mandela Bay. (Supplied, file)

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Port Elizabeth - Verified death threats have been made against two senior Nelson Mandela Bay councillors, Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip said on Tuesday.

He revealed at a press conference that chief whip of council, Werner Senekal, and the mayoral committee member for roads and transport, Rano Kayser, received the threats last week.

"Without going into too much detail, the information is that there are people who have been sent to carry out the execution of these two councillors. That would mean there is a hitman or a hit team that have been contracted," he said.

Both councillors were present at the press conference, but neither elaborated much on the actual threats.

READ: Councillors injured after glasses thrown, shots fired at NMB council meeting

Kayser said both he and Senekal had received threats on the same day last week via SMS, while Senekal said he wanted to give the police space to investigate.

"We received threats that appear to be credible. I cannot speak too much about the information received without compromising the investigation that the SAPS are engaged with at this moment," said Senekal.

Trollip said police believed the threats were credible and could possibly be linked to cases opened by the councillors.

"The South African Police Service believes that this may be linked to the two metro councillors who are currently facing charges of attempted murder and assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm," said Trollip.

"These charges arose from criminal cases opened by councillors Senekal and Kayser after the infamous council meeting of 27 October last year [2016], where both of these councillors were assaulted with dangerous objects," he said.

READ: ANC slams its Nelson Mandela Bay councillors over brawl

Council brawl

The two councillors who have been charged are controversial African National Congress councillor Andile Lungisa and co-accused, ANC ward councillor Gamaliheli Maqula.

Lungisa is accused of smashing a heavy glass water jug against Kayser's head during a heated brawl in the Bay's council chambers in 2016.

Kayser sustained a deep gash in his head and a concussion and was hospitalised after the event. Senekal was allegedly stabbed in the back with a sharp object during the ruckus.

Both Lungisa and Maqula are expected to appear in court on Monday.

Lungisa also made headlines in March this year when he was controversially elected as Nelson Mandela Bay ANC chairperson, receiving the endorsement of President Jacob Zuma who flew into the city to congratulate him, before resigning from his position with immediate effect a mere two weeks later.

Lungisa had been forbidden to run for the position by party general secretary Gwede Mantashe, as he was already a member of the ANC's Provincial Executive Committee.

Trollip needs 'mental observation'

Lungisa however rubbished the claims that the death threats were related to the upcoming court case, saying they were bizarre accusations and could not be further from the truth.

"Trollip needs to go to the nearest hospital and check in for mental observation; clearly the stress of running the city is getting to him," he told News24.

He accused Trollip of using the opportunity to bring the spotlight back onto the case against him and councillor Maqula.

"He is tampering with my integrity; it is very unfortunate in what he is saying," he said.

Lungisa said both Kayser and Senekal were close colleagues of his.

"We talk together; we laugh and joke together. I sit behind Rano, we eat chocolate biscuits together," he said.

Threats

On Tuesday, Trollip said: "We certainly are not saying that the threats came from the councillors. What we are saying is that there is information that suggests that the threats may be linked to the fact that this case is coming up before the court."

He added that the councillors would go ahead with pressing charges against Lungisa and Maqula and would not be intimidated.

"Whatever the case may be, the following is certain: No amount of intimidation or plotting will deter us from leading this city," he said.

Both Kayser and Senekal have been given special security details following the threats against them.

Read more on:    anc  |  athol trollip  |  port elizabeth  |  politics  |  political killings  |  crime

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