Newcastle deputy mayor Reuben Molelekoa, who allegedly crashed his vehicle into two houses while drunk, has been granted bail and will only return to court in 2020, police said on Monday.
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Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said Molelekoa had appeared on September 11 and would return to court on March 20, 2020.
“[He] was arrested for reckless and negligent driving, as well as driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance, after he allegedly crashed into two houses in B Section, Osizweni.”
NPA spokesperson Natasha Kara could not immediately confirm the court appearance.
Molelekoa, 31, has only been in office for about two weeks.
He was arrested after his vehicle ploughed into two homes around midnight on Tuesday, causing serious damage.
KwaZulu-Natal cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Sipho Hlomuka said: “Also noted are the reported comments from the police that the said public official has been charged with drunken driving. KZN Cogta is following the matter with keen interest. The department has also expressed relief that no life was lost in this horrific incident.”
He said the speaker of the municipality, Samekelisiwe Yende, had been tasked with conducting an investigation.
“In line with the Municipal Systems Act, I have since asked the speaker of the Newcastle municipality to conduct an investigation into this incident and give us a report as soon as possible. The speaker in a municipality is responsible for, among other tasks, the code of conduct of councillors,” said Hlomuka.
He added that the allegations were being “viewed in a serious light but, at this stage, it would be premature to jump to any conclusions pending the investigation by the speaker”.
“The matter is currently before a court of law and the department will comment fully when all due processes have been concluded.”
In a statement, Yende said the municipality had decided “to start an investigation which will be led by the speaker to look at all the circumstances that might have led to the accident”.
“On the matters that involve SAPS, the municipality will allow them to conclude with their investigations. Since this also involves two families whose properties were damaged, the municipality has since visited the families to tender our apologies. This was done together with the deputy mayor.”
Yende said Molelekoa had promised to cover the costs for damages to the two properties.
“The municipality is also in constant contact with the families to check the progress. The deputy mayor is currently at home and did not sustain any major physical injuries. The municipality would like to appreciate the fact that no life was lost and it does take note that the property damage is of a serious nature.”