Anger over PE court punch-up

TENSIONS are high at the Port Elizabeth's New Law Court where a former mayor, who is now a court interpreter, was allegedly beaten up in the office of his supervisor, who took exception to office "gossip".

Court staff maintain that management are blatantly turning a blind eye to cover up for supervisor Vuyisile Jonas, who allegedly punched Jerry Kololo. Kololo was allegedly left bleeding profusely from the mouth.

Staff say court manager Themba Gola, who is a close friend of Jonas, should have been suspended Jonas long ago.

They say the attack, alleged to have taken place on April 3, has angered many staff members.

The drama unfolded after Kololo had apparently likened tutorial classes, given to new staff members by the Department of Justice, to a "creche".

Jonas, a well-known court interpreter, said on Friday the matter was an internal one and as such no one could comment on it.

"I am not even going to discuss what the policy of the department stipulates regarding the issue," Jonas said.

"The person who contacted you can be the one to comment."

Gola denied covering up the matter on behalf of Jonas, saying: "The matter has been reported to the regional office.

"It is their policy to probe the seriousness of any case. I had a meeting with staff to alleviate their fears."

Meanwhile, Kololo, a former Humansdorp mayor, has opened a case of assault at the Mount Road police station.

When contacted he was reluctant to comment on the merit of the matter, citing fear of jeopardising investigation procedures. He however confirmed the attack.

"The assault did take place in his office three weeks ago, "but I do not want to go into the merits of the case," Kololo said.

Court officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said on the day in question, Kololo had gone to Jonas' office to sign an attendance register.

"He first closed the door and without any provocation, Jonas took off his (Kololo's) spectacles. He then started to punch him, saying he had been spreading gossip. Jerry called out for help but the door was closed," court staff said.

A severely shaken Kololo, who allegedly bled profusely, was rescued by a male colleague who entered the office later.

The incident has sparked anger among interpreters who said they feared signing the attendance register while Jonas was still in his office.

They are demanding that Jonas be suspended to allow for the process of the investigation.