Tshwane ANC councillor Joel Masilela has a history of physically and sexually assaulting female colleagues during council sittings at the chambers, with at least four women fearing to attend the monthly meetings.
These were allegations made by DA councillors outside the Pretoria central police station on Friday, after a formal criminal charge was laid against the Mamelodi representative.
Masilela was accused of groping seven-month pregnant DA Councillor Jacqui Uys when she walked passed him at the last council sitting for the year on Thursday. He also allegedly attacked DA Councillor Karen Meyer later that evening.
Despite a vote to have Masilela removed from chambers, the ANC representative told the speaker he would not leave and remained in council. The incident happened mere minutes after councillors were to participate in a debate on 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children.
“True to their nature, the ANC caucus defended Masilela to prevent his removal. His actions are a disregard to the rights of women. He has been accused of assaulting two female councillors and sexually assaulting another prior to yesterday’s [Thursday] incident,” acting deputy chief whip Crezanne Bosch told the media yesterday.
A pregnant Uys said she was concerned and upset at realising she was bringing a child into a world that had a “rape culture”.
“I realised I am afraid to go to work because things like this happen. I was absolutely reduced to nothing more than a sexual object. I am laying these charges as I realised I am bringing a child into a world that has a rape culture.”
Meyer told the media that Masilela attacked her over her desk at the chambers, attempting to grab her phone as she was filming his actions.
“He came around my desk, tried to grab it out of my hands while shouting and screaming at me. I kept my phone away from him, as this footage was evidence. The mayor grabbed my phone to keep it safe and male DA councillors protected me from Masilela,” she said.
This was the second time charges were laid against Masilela, as he allegedly assaulted two female councillors from the DA and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at a sitting in September.
Councillor Elma Nel said her case was still under investigation and no arrests were yet made.
“I still have a damaged vertebrae in my back so I am not safe with this man in council. My case is being investigated by the provincial police.”
ANC spokesperson Tebogo Joala could not provide comment at the time of print.