Above: The Town Hall where the fourth speaker of this council’s term will be elected today. Photo: Stellenbosch Municipality.

Only two days after the Stellenbosch Municipal Council Meeting was held on Wednesday, 28 October, the speaker of the council, Nyaniso Jindela, resigned suddenly and unexpectedly.

In a letter addressed to the municipal manager, dated 30 October 2020, Jindela informed the municipal manager that he would resign as speaker effective 31 October 2020. He thanked the municipality for the opportunity and the support he received from both councillors and officials during his time as speaker.

In his letter, Jindela did not provide any reasons for his resignation, and StellenboschNews.com was unable to contact him telephonically or by e-mail.

The new speaker, who will be elected at an urgent council meeting on Monday 2 November, will be the fourth speaker of this council term.

Several sources with knowledge of the affair who spoke to StellenboschNews.com on condition of anonymity, however, said that the sudden resignation stems from an incident in the council meeting on Wednesday. The speaker did not evict cllr Derrick Hendrickse (EFF) from the council meeting after he said that the mayor, Gesie van Deventer, had acted unethically in the transfer of a lease from Blaauwklippen to Kleine Zalze in 2017.

Nyaniso Jindela.

Nyaniso Jindela

The mayor, as well as cllrs Quinton Smit and Rikus Badenhorst, objected, but Hendrickse refused to withdraw his statement. Jindela then ruled in favour of Hendrickse.

If true, it seems similar to one of the reasons for the earlier removal of cllr Donavan Joubert as speaker. In that case, in papers before the court, cllr Patricia Crawley (DA) declared under oath that Joubert was removed due to his unwillingness to act against cllr Franklin Adams after she lodged some complaints.

Sources said that the current deputy mayor would seek election as speaker after which Jindela would be elected as deputy mayor.

StellenboschNews.com reached out to the mayor, the speaker, as well as the deputy mayor, Wilhelmina Petersen. Petersen responded by referring StellenboschNews.com to the municipal spokesperson, Stuart Grobbelaar. When StellenboschNews.com pointed out that he is the spokesperson for the municipality and that he cannot provide comment on political matters, Petersen suggested that the issue should only be reported on after the council meeting. She then refused to make any further statement. Petersen is also the elected councillor for Ward 2, which includes Groendal and La Motte.

The mayor said it would be inappropriate for her to respond, citing the Municipal Structures Act as grounds. Neither the Municipal Structures Act nor the Constitution requires a mayor to be apolitical and to refrain from commenting on political issues. The mayor did not provide StellenboschNews.com with the clauses in the Municipal Structures Act she relied on, but instead said that she would not comment on speculation and gossip.

  – Stellenbosch Newsroom