The man blamed for stabbing Nelson Mandela Bay chief whip Werner Senekal amid a board fight in October 2016, was absolved in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning.
Gamalihleli Maqula faced a charge of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm (assault GBH), alongside ANC provincial heavyweight Andile Lungisa.
At the end of the State’s case, Maqula’s attorney Luthando Ngqakayi brought an application for a discharge in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act.
Magistrate Morne Cannon said the State had called a number of witnesses, including Senekal himself, former UDM councillor Mandla Faltein, municipal manager Johann Mettler and Senekal’s doctor Wessel Swart to testify.
He said Faltein’s evidence, which included a video of the alleged stabbing, was not of much use, pointing out that the video was unclear and adding that Senekal himself battled to identify himself in the footage.
Addressing Senekal’s testimony, Cannon said the chief whip conceded that he did not know when or where he had been stabbed, or who had stabbed him.
“He concedes that the injury could have happened on two other occasions,” Cannon said. “He also concedes he did not see a weapon on [Maqula].”
As a result, not much could be placed on Senekal’s testimony, the magistrate found.
Cannon also referred to Mettler’s testimony that he saw Maqula make a movement with his hand before he saw Senekal wince in pain and take a step forward. This led him to conclude that Senekal had been stabbed.
However, Cannon said Mettler had not been able to explain why Senekal’s testimony contradicted his own, and added that Mettler conceded that he had not seen a weapon in Maqula’s hand.
Dealing with the testimony of Dr Swart, which was given on Monday, Cannon said the evidence confirmed the injury, but pointed out that it did not help the State to prove that Maqula had caused it.
“In light of the above, I find there is no evidence to convict [Maqula]. [Maqula] is therefore discharged in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act,” he ruled.
Lungisa still faces a charge of assault GBH for allegedly smashing a glass water jug over the head of member of the mayoral committee for transport, Rano Kayser, during the same incident.
Lungisa is expected to testify in his defence later today.
The trial continues.