“The councillor politely refused to comment on queries posed by the journalist, which ostensibly frustrated the journalist to the point where he verbally and physically intimidated the distraught councillor“
CAPE TOWN – A councillor in the Western Cape has filed charges of assault against a journalist.
The Stellenbosch councillor was attending an urgent council meeting at the Stellenbosch Town Hall on Monday when the alleged incident occurred.
According to provincial police spokesperson André Traut, the councillor and the journalist cannot be named.
“Kindly be advised that this office can confirm that the case number furnished by you was registered for an assault which was allegedly perpetrated in Stellenbosch yesterday morning (Monday).
“The circumstances are under investigation.
“Further be advised that the identities of the parties concerned cannot be disclosed,” Traut said.
The councillor was one of 40 other councillors at the urgent council meeting to elect a new speaker in terms of Section 36 of the Local Government Municipal Structures Act, no. 117 of 1998.
The previous speaker, councillor Nyansio Jindela, resigned effectively as of October 31, 2020.
Councillor Wilhelmina Petersen was elected as the new speaker, while Jindela was elected as Stellenbosch’s new deputy mayor.
Minutes after Petersen’s appointment, she released a statement condemning the actions of the journalist “in the strongest possible terms” after a female councillor was allegedly verbally and physically attacked.
She said the alleged attack took place in full view of councillors, law enforcement officials and municipal officials.
“The councillor politely refused to comment on queries posed by the journalist, which ostensibly frustrated the journalist to the point where he verbally and physically intimidated the distraught councillor.
“After several attempts by onlookers to bring calm to the situation, the journalist continued hounding the councillor.
“Following severe shock, the councillor received medical attention by paramedics directly after the altercation,” Petersen said.
She said a formal complaint will be laid against the journalist at the press ombudsman apart from the criminal charges.
“It is truly shocking that such an assault on a female councillor took place, especially as this is the month in which South Africans observe 16 Days of Activism for violence against women and children.
“The municipality stands firmly opposed to any form of gender-based violence and denounces the despicable actions of this journalist,” Petersen added.