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Opposition lay charges after council chaos

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The meeting was plunged into anarchy, with water bottles, tins of energy drinks and pieces of broken plastic hurled at opposition councillors

Picture: Danie van der Lith

OPPOSITION parties in Kimberley yesterday joined forces in laying criminal charges against the acting Speaker of the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Ben Springbok, following a chaotic special council meeting that was convened to elect a new mayor.

The charges emanate from Springbok’s conduct during the meeting held on Friday, when supporters of the ANC who were seated in the public gallery disrupted proceedings

The meeting was plunged into anarchy, with water bottles, tins of energy drinks and pieces of broken plastic hurled at opposition councillors.

Springbok tried unsuccessfully to call the raucous members of the public to order.

The DA, Cope and the EFF yesterday jointly laid criminal charges against Springbok at the Kimberley police station, for his alleged unwillingness and failure to protect opposition councillors from danger.

DA provincial leader Andrew Louw said that nothing was done to prevent ANC councillors or supporters in the public gallery from disrupting proceedings or from threatening to commit violence against opposition councillors, “placing their lives in danger”.

“We can’t allow democratically elected opposition councillors to be intimidated and threatened at a council meeting. We are laying criminal charges against the acting Speaker of the Sol Plaatje Municipality, Ben Springbok, for his failure to act in accordance with the Municipal Structures Act and for failing to protect councillors from the opposition against serious, severe threats of violence.

“Amongst other things, this failure allowed rampant criminality by members of the public, dressed in ANC regalia, who threw objects at opposition councillors during the council meeting held on Friday. The acting Speaker did not attempt to restore calm to the proceedings nor did he instruct security guards to act, as he is required to do,” Louw said.

He claimed that the meeting was “deliberately and willingly” disrupted by ANC members, who realised they “don’t have the majority” after “tallying the numbers”.

– Norma Wildenboer