Ricochet News

VIDEO: 'Lungisa does not deserve to be locked away' court hears

By Afikile Lugunya - May 9, 2018
VIDEO: 'Lungisa does not deserve to be locked away' court hears

Controversial African National Congress (ANC) Councillor, Andile Lungisa, who was last month convicted on a charge of assault with the intent to cause Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), was on Wednesday sentenced to three years behind bars.

One year was suspended for five years, so he will serve an effective two-year jail term.

Lungisa faced charges of assaulting Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor, Rano Kayser, and allegedly smashed a glass jug filled with water over Kayser’s head during a brawl that broke out a Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality council meeting in October 2016.

As a result of that brawl, DA Chief Whip, Werner Senekal, was also injured. Kayser had to be rushed to hospital bleeding from a huge gush on his head while Senekal was allegedly stabbed in the back with a sharp object by ANC Councillor, Gamilihleli Maqula.

Reports suggested that trouble began when the ANC, which is now in opposition, objected to an item on the municipality's confidential green paper.

In the ensuing chaos, glass water jugs were thrown at Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, the Speaker and Councillors.

An ANC female Councillor collapsed in the mayhem and was also ferried to hospital.

Port Elizabeth police had to be called in to restore order after a security guard fired two warning shots while trying to control the fighting Councillors.

Kayser and Senekal later laid charges against Lungisa and Maqula.

The ANC blamed the fiasco on the DA.

Magistrate Morne Cannon said that in his judgement,  he had taken note of how the incident affected the victim, Kayser, the community, and also considered the personal circumstances of the accused.

In mitigation of sentence, it was revealed that Lungisa has seven children, between the ages of 2-16, who all depend on him. Apparently, his siblings, his mother and father also depend on him financially - thus, jailing him would remove him as the sole breadwinner in his family.

Well-known activist, Mkhuseli Jack, was invited by Lungisa's defence attorney, Luthando Ngqakayi, to help plead for a mitigation of sentence.

Jack recalled how he met Lungisa in 1997 when the latter was still a student, who had come from the rural areas, but possessed by a hunger to help transform South Africa.

He said that Lungisa is a young man with respect for elders, a good South African citizen, who didn’t deserve to be locked away in prison.

Jack described how he coincidently saw Lungisa on the very same day of the incident 'looking scared and confused'. 

“If you throw him in prison, we will lose a chance to rehabilitate him,” he told the court.

When Lungisa took to the stand, he said that he was remorseful and apologised to Kayser for what happened.

He described how everything happened so fast and “it was chaotic... I really sympathise with him".

However, Lungisa still maintained he was not guilty of assault.

When he was asked by the State Prosecutor, Wayne Ludick, why he was apologising if he was innocent, he responded saying that he respected the court that had found him guilty.

“I respect the court's decision. When I came here, I had intentions that I wasn’t guilty, but the court says otherwise and I respect that, but I’m still remorseful to what the court has found me guilty of,” Lungisa explained.

Ludick told the court Lungisa was going round in circles and not answering the question.

“Rano was injured that day that’s why I’m saying that,” Lungisa described and that was it.

When Kayser was put on the stand, he said that ever since the incident, he has had constant chest pains, headaches plus short memory loss.

He also added that he felt humiliated by the incident.

“...if I can’t defend myself as a man, my children get teased because their father is seen as a man, who can’t defend himself,” Kayser described to the court.

He also revealed that Lungisa had been sending other councillors to apologise on his behald ever since that incident took place.

However, he has not had time to think about what happened that and whether to forgive Lungisa.

In his ruling, Magistrate Cannon said that Lungisa had shown no remorse to what he did to Kayser and has not taken responsibility for his actions.

He said Lungisa's actions were of a serious nature and he had also taken into consideration the fact that he is a Councillor and ought to have acted differently.

The Magistrate insisted that his sentence was not influenced by politics although he took into account that the incident happened in the Council Chambers.

Speaking after the ruling, the African National Congress (ANC) in the Nelson Mandela Bay, which had come to support Lungisa said that they accept the decision taken by court, but they will appeal the sentence.

However, the DA's Provincial Spokesperson, Mlindi Nhanha, said that they also accept the decision taken by the Magistrate as the law had taken its course.

Lungisa's sentencing effectively means opposition parties that were seeking the removal of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, through a motion of no confidence now have few votes after another ANC Councillor was jailed for fraud in April.

ANC Councillor, Bongo Nobimba was sentenced to five years direct imprisonment for fraud and corruption.

The debate over the motion is set to resume on Thursday after being postponed twice.