When Tshwane council adjourned for lunch on Thursday, chaos erupted shortly afterwards.
A physical altercation erupted between the group head of the secretariat of council, Tiyiselani Babane, and ANC councillors, with the EFF joining in shortly afterwards.
Babane, who is a member of the Congress of the People (Cope), was escorted out of council chambers by security as a result of the incident.
ANC Tshwane chairperson Dr Kgosi Maepa has since taken to Twitter to give his side of what transpired.
“The DA speaker’s office and its HOD have just deployed ’80 bouncers’ into our Council meeting, to cause mayhem and disrupt council,” he alleged.
“The DA is becoming increasingly desperate to hold on to power at all costs. We have called a 1-hour caucus,” he added.
Maepa expanded on his allegation regarding bouncers in an interview outside chambers.
“They got security outside council to come inside council,” he said.
“In council, we have metro police that have an obligation by our bylaw to look after safety and security in council, they have undermined that.
“We don’t know how they got inside council.”
Explaining his version of what happened between the ANC and Babane, Maepa alleged the head of department “went to provoke the African National Congress councillors”.
“We don’t know why an official of council roams around in the space of councillors where discussions are happening. He went and provoked the ANC, there was a scuffle as a result of Mr Babane wanting to physically engage and fight with ANC councillors.
“Only councillors are allowed within the perimeters,” he added. “No official is allowed.”
Maepa also accused council speaker Katlego Mathebe of violating the constitution by presiding over a motion of confidence directed at herself.
Attempts to contact the speaker’s office were unsuccessful at the time of publication.
Emotions ran high during #TshwaneCouncil break when a physical altercation ensued between Tiyiselani Babane, who works in the Speakers office, and @TshwaneANC councillors. Seen in the top left corner, Speaker tries to calm Babane. @TheCitizen_News pic.twitter.com/YKlX451WeS
— Rorisang Kgosana (@therealrorisang) January 16, 2020
— City Press (@City_Press) January 16, 2020
— Queenin Masuabi (@Queenin_M) January 16, 2020
Update – Tshwane Council:
The DA Speaker's office and its HOD have just deployed "80 Bouncers" into our Council meeting, to cause mayhem and disrupt Council. The DA is becoming increasingly desperate to hold on to power at all costs. We have called a 1hr caucus.@MYANC
— Kgoši Maepa (@kgosi_maepa) January 16, 2020
The altercation took place during the break of a special council meeting, where a number of motions of no confidence against DA members were on the agenda.
The ANC and EFF intend to table motions of no confidence against Mathebe as well as mayor Stevens Mokgalapa, chief whip Christo van den Heever, acting speaker Zweli Khumalo, and chair of chairs Gert Pretorius.
Both the EFF and ANC are hoping to also lodge a dissolution of all Section 79 oversight committees. The ANC held a briefing before the Tshwane special council sitting started to outline their plan should motions pass.
Maepa said the ANC would embark on a new growth path while working with others to fix the “mess of the DA”.
He said the ANC had the majority.
“There are 214 councillors in council. For a majority, the ANC would need 107 plus one to have the majority.”
With the help of the EFF and PAC, “we already have majority councillors”.
“The speaker cannot stop democracy.”
The much-anticipated council sitting kicked off to a bumpy start with councillors arguing on the rules and orders in terms of who decided the sequence of the items on the agenda.
On Monday, the DA’s deputy chief whip in Tshwane Mpho Mehlape-Zimu laid fraud charges against the ANC regional leadership in Tshwane for allegedly forging signatures of seven members of council in an attempt to “convene an illegal council sitting last week”.
The case was opened at the Brooklyn police station.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, Gopolang Chawane)