The Newcastle Municipality on Tuesday described the criminal charges laid against its Mayor, Ntuthuko Mahlaba, as frivolous.
In a statement sent out shortly after a report in The Witness on Tuesday morning that Mahlaba appeared at the Newcastle Magistrate's Court on charges of theft, malicious damage to property and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, the municipality said its mayor was looking forward to clear his name.
“As a law-abiding citizen the mayor swiftly presented himself in court yesterday (July 26, 2021).
“The mayor also views the allegation as malicious, frivolous and without substance,” said the municipality's spokesperson, Mlungisi Khumalo.
Mahlaba, who is also the ANC eMalahleni regional chairperson, was in 2019 arrested in connection with the 2016 murder of ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leader, Wandile Ngubeni.
However, the charges were withdrawn following the death of a key witness.
According to the charge sheet, the current charges against Mahlaba stem from an incident that happened last year when the mayor was allegedly involved in an altercation with a contractor who had been installing fibre cables in Newcastle.
In terms of the ANC step-aside guidelines, Mahlaba will have to vacate his mayoral position pending the finalisation of his criminal case.
However, Khumalo said Mahlaba was continuing with his mayoral duties.
“In the interim, Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba continues to serve the residents of Newcastle and pleads with people to allow the law to take its course,” he said.