Party set to probe councillor arrest

The ANC’s Sarah Baartman region will investigate what led to the arrest of a councillor last week. The councillor was taken in for questioning on Wednesday August 2 and released the next day. The questioning related to the alleged rape of a minor, according to South African Police Service spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu.

Naidu said the man had been released because he could not be linked to the case.

News of the allegations and the man’s detention was widely circulated on social media.

A group of around 15 supporters welcomed the man following his release from Port Alfred Police Station shortly before midday on Thursday August 3. Asked by Talk of the Town whether he would like to make a statement, he declined. Talk of the Town then sought clarification from the man’s lawyer as well as the ANC’s regional leadership.

Basil Williams, Director at BA Williams Attorneys in Makhanda, confirmed that they received instructions to represent the councillor in all legal proceedings including any possible bail application.

Williams facilitated the release of the councillor after the state took a decision not to place the matter on the roll for court.

Asked to comment on why his client was released, Williams indicated that if the state is of the opinion that the matter is without merit, or needs further investigation, they might opt not to enroll it until all issues pertaining to the matter – legal or otherwise- have been thoroughly investigated.

“We will request the state to provide us with docket copies of the matter and take a decision on whether the conduct of the police officials involved amounts to unlawful arrest and detention. This is considering the fact that our client went to the police on his own – as a responsible citizen in his capacity as councillor – to enquire as to why the police wanted to speak to him,” Williams said.

Secretary for the ANC’s Sarah Baartman region Johannes Hobbs confirmed that the detention of a councillor had come to their attention.

“The councillor himself told us,” Hobbs said.

The man had gone to the police station to confirm a rumour that the police sought to speak to him and had been immediately detained there.

“No case was opened and the councillor was released,” Hobbs said.

Asked whether the incident may have been sparked by intra-organisational rivalries, Hobbs said, “Nothing has been brought to my attention to suggest that this incident has political ramifications and we will not speculate.

“We have tasked two REC members to investigate what led to the councillor being detained. This is because the allegations preceding it have very serious ramifications.

“We take any allegations of criminal acts in an extremely serious light, particularly concerning gender based violence (GBV), and we will side with any victim irrespective of who is accused,” Hobbs said.

“Should he have been charged, it would have cost him his job.”

Hobbs said until the REC members had investigated the matter, and he had read their report, he would not be in a position to comment.

Sources claim that the rape allegations were made soon after an offensive social media post, allegedly by the councillor.

The rape investigation was continuing, Naidu said.