Soshanguve councillor in scuffle at public event

Karabo Ngoepe, News24

Pretoria - An ANC ward councillor in Soshanguve was assaulted at a public event by ANC branch members who were upset because he failed to tell them he would be handing over a site for RDP houses.

Simon Marotola, the Soshanguve Ward 90 councillor, said he was assaulted by a group of 10 men in the middle of his public presentation.

Marotola was addressing the crowd at a site handover for the development of RDP houses at Extension 7 on Thursday.

He said the group of 10 men arrived in a bakkie and started disrupting proceedings.

"One of them pointed a sling shot at my private parts and I asked him to stop as he would hurt me. I tried to take the sling shot from him and we got into a scuffle. Others joined in and attacked me. I managed to get up and another man approached me but I stopped him with my leg. He then claimed I kicked him but I managed to run away."

He said the men had earlier demanded that a liaison officer at the building site be removed. They also demanded to be part of the project.

Marotola said it was not the first time the men had tried to interrupt his community engagement. He then went to the police station to open a case against them, he said.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Matthews Nkoadi confirmed that a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm was opened.

Conflicting stories

Some of the men, who admitted to being involved in the scuffle, said however that it was Marotola who was in the wrong and that he had in fact assaulted them.

Happy Maunatlala, who admitted to being involved, said the councillor had failed to inform the ANC branch executive committee that there would be a site handover. He said when they heard about the handover, they went to where it was taking place.

"He was shocked to see us there. We then told him to appoint one liaison officer from his camp and one from our side. Because he wanted to appoint his girlfriend, he got angry. He then came to me and started grabbing... and I pushed him," said Maunatlala.

"There was a commotion there and then he kicked Simon [Phele] on the belly button. He ran away and went to the police station and told police he was attacked by a group of people while he was the one who started everything. We went the next day to open a case, but Simon was arrested,” he said.

Phele claimed he was kicked even though he said he was not part of the scuffle. He said the only mistake he had made was to speak up against Marotola making decisions without involving members of the branch executive committee (BEC).

"I only objected to him taking decisions without the BEC members in the region. He then said he did not recognise them and he attacked me. I tried to open a case against him but they arrested me and left him. I spent the weekend in the cells and I was taken to court on Monday," said Phele.

Maunatlala also accused Marotola of undermining party process and instigating hooliganism. He claimed the councillor once mobilised them to protest outside the regional offices.

"He paid for buses and members went to the regional offices and shut it down," said Maunatlala.

Marotola however denied the accusations. He said the group decided on its own to sow divisions within the party.

"They planned it on their own and I was not part of it. People sometimes do things and turn around to blame others just because they are trying to get positions. It’s not true what they are saying. I was surprised to see them when they disrupted that meeting," he said.