Mayor (34) ‘beats up’ granny (62)

2012-01-30 16:44

A 34-year-old Eastern Cape mayor stands accused of assaulting a 62-year-old grandmother after an argument about unemployment in the town turned ugly.

Mati Joka, of Tarkastad near Queenstown, has opened a case of assault against her mayor Khayalethu Nqinghi.

Joka claims Nqinghi beat her and even kicked her in the chest and face after she demanded to know about a youth employment programme in the town’s Tsolwana Local Municipality.

“I had first gone to his office only to find he was not there. He’s never there, and as expected I found him at his in-laws’ place,” said Joka a few hours after the incident last week.

“I feel hurt by what he did. I mean what satisfaction does he get from assaulting and stomping on an old woman? And this is all because I asked him why our children are not getting work. But even though he’s younger and stronger I tried to fight back,” said the feisty Joka.

She was taken to a private doctor by her family on the day of the assault, and the medical report issued mentioned large bruises to the chest area, her neck, and left and right cheeks.

Meanwhile, Nqinghi denies any assault took place and claims Joka tripped, fell on a vase and injured her right cheek when he was escorting her out of the house where the argument took place.

“We were discussing issues of youth employment when she became uncontrollable and started swearing at me. I was with my child, who had started crying because of this, so I took her arm and escorted her outside and this is when she tripped.

“I’m at the police station explaining exactly that right now,” he said.

Eastern Cape police declined to comment, with spokesperson Ernest Sigobe refusing to even confirm the existence of a case. “SAPS policy does not allow me to confirm or deny such until a person appears before the courts,” he said.

Joka’s relatives all condemned the incident, accusing the mayor and his councillors of being a law unto themselves in the small town. Makhaya Moletsane, whose wife is the victim’s cousin, recalled getting a call from his wife telling him to rush to her cousin’s house because she was hurt.

“When I got there she had already gone to the police station to lay charges. Mati was covered in blood and I immediately rushed her to Queenstown for medical assistance. It’s disgraceful that he can do this to someone old enough to be his mother.

“But this is the life we live here. If you talk, you get told you will eat grass because there will be no jobs for you and your family,” said Moletsane.

The town’s municipal manager Smilo Dayi said his office had not received any formal complaint, but he was looking into “such a rumour”.

“There are rules and a code of conduct for councillors, and if this had happened during office hours a committee would have to investigate and make recommendations to the council (which is led by Nqinghi who is both mayor and speaker).

“But as this is rumoured to have taken place after office hours, I have no jurisdiction and will leave everything up to the police,” he said.

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