Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has apologised to women for the assault of councillor Nanziwe Rulashe in the Amathole District Municipality offices in East London this week.
Videos of Rulashe being dragged kicking and screaming by armed council security guards, allegedly on the instruction of the municipal manager Thandekile Mnyimba, were widely circulated on social media on Monday.
Rulashe, who is a member of the mayoral committee, said the alleged assault stemmed from a disagreement with a municipal official during a strategic meeting. Rulashe was injured during the incident which has been condemned by many South Africans.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, called on the province to investigate the incident which again shone the spotlight on gender-based violence.
Following a provincial Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Mabuyane condemned the incident saying it should have never happened.
He added that it was unfortunate that relations between people in the municipality had degenerated to such levels.
Mabuyane said no stone would be left unturned, including action against the municipal manager if there was any wrongdoing on his part.
“If there is any issue that takes us to the municipal manager, he must be held accountable. We can’t have an institution that is governed by the ANC be dragged in the mud like that,” he said. “The buck stops with both the executive mayor [Nceba Ndikinda] and the municipal manager.
“You cannot do what they did in a society that is battling with high levels of gender-based violence, a treatment of a woman like that by men, with other women facilitating it, is bad. We can’t comprehend it.
“We can’t have an institution that is run in a thuggish way. It can’t be. So, we really condemn that, it should not have happened and we are following that matter up, provincially and nationally. It has embarrassed the ANC in the society,” said Mabuyane.
Four security guards and the municipality’s head of security who were involved in the incident appeared in the East London Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday where they were charged with common assault, intimidation and malicious damage to property. They were released on R500 bail and are expected back in court on March 11.
In a statement on Monday, Dlamini-Zuma condemned “the physical abuse” of Rulashe.
She called for law enforcement agencies, the municipality and the province to investigate the incident so that those involved in the assault could be brought to book.
Meanwhile, Ndikinda said they had written to the municipal manager and all officials close to the activities to provide a report.
The mayor said this would allow the municipality to get to the bottom of the matter.
“Understanding the gravity of this and the harm that it has caused to Rulashe as a woman and as a human being, we decided to institute a detailed investigation with the view to uncover all the facts and get to the bottom of this matter … We are fully alive to the trauma that has been caused to Rulashe and as such we will provide her with the necessary professional support through a counsellor," he said.