An ANC Johannesburg councillor accused of rape has decided to voluntarily step down from his duties with immediate effect.
The man, who can not be identified until he has pleaded in the case, appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday and was released on R2 000 bail.
In statement released by the accused, he said: “I am fully committed to participating with the legal process in order to ensure a free and fair trial and resolution of the very serious matter.
“I remain a loyal and committed leader of the ANC and I will trust in the judicial process which guarantees my right to a free and fair trial.”
The councillor said he has noted that the ANC has no policy currently on accused members stepping aside from their positions.
“However, given the seriousness of such an allegation levelled against me as as my steadfast commitment to end all forms of gender-based violence and attain a non-sexist society, I have taken a voluntary decision to request a special leave of absence with immediate effect… to allow myself an opportunity to clear my name away from my everyday responsibilities I discharge as a public representative of the ANC,” he said.
The councillor said he had served the ANC for his entire life and that the party had made him, “… the man he is today.
“I am committed to [fighting] all forms of gender-based violence in our country. On 3 January, I was charged with rape to which I pleaded not guilty and was released [on bail] on 4 January,” he said.
The councillor is expected back in court in February.
During his appearance in court, members of the ANC were divided in song with some of the ANC Women’s League protested outside in support of the victim, while those suspected to be ANC Youth League members were in support of the accused.
The incident has irked the ANC leadership in the Johannesburg region.
The region has earlier warned its members not to protest outside the court wearing party regalia in support of the accused.
Regional chairperson Dada Morero earlier said they will first determine if those who supported the accused were ANC members and if so, they will determine what action to take against them.