Cape Town - ANC MPL and Interim Provincial Committee (IPC) member Andile Lili will not appeal his conviction on charges of incitement to murder and assault for utterances he made around seven years ago during a protest.
The conviction, at the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, means that Lili could be asked to step aside from office as per the ANC’s resolution.
The charges related to Lili urging a crowd of Ses’khona supporters who gathered outside the Bellville Magistrate’s Court during 2014, to take the law into their own hands to deal with criminals.
Lili, who had been the Ses’khona People’s Movement leader at the time, had said “criminals must be killed”.
“The justice system fails our communities, we must kill rapists and robbers in our communities because the courts are failing to protect the poor... Criminals are arrested and get free because the courts are taking the wrong decisions,” he had said.
At the time, Lili said he did not encourage the crowd to carry out mob justice, but under certain circumstances, and with violent crimes, it was “justifiable”.
Reacting to the conviction, Lili told the Cape Times that he accepted the judgement and took the consequences thereof.
“I have already apologised for using such language during 2015. However, it was taken out of context as I referred to a gender-based violence matter where a woman's body was found after her partner assaulted and raped her in Site C at that time.
"I considered it as freedom of speech, speaking for those who were from marginalised and previously-disadvantaged communities. The justice system must be criticised as I was easily targeted as somebody who lives the reality with people who live in communities affected by such violent crimes. The system is not just and (after seven years) one can truly say that justice delayed is justice denied," said Lili.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Lili was convicted on two counts of attending illegal gatherings outside Bellville Magistrate’s Court, and inciting members of Ses’khona People’s Movement to commit murder and assault.
“Lili was a member of the Ses’khona People’s Movement when he was charged and appeared at the Bellville Magistrate’s Court. State Advocate PJ Damon, who has prosecuted the case since 2014, confirmed that Lili was convicted for attending an illegal gathering outside the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on August 12, 2014, attending an illegal gathering outside the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on July 28, 2015, inciting members of Ses’khona People’s Movement to murder outside Bellville Magistrates Court on 28 July 28, 2015, and assault common in that he threatened complainants with sending his ants to shoot them,” said Ntabazalila.
Following the conviction, an elated advocate Damon said: “Justice has finally prevailed. The prosecution is satisfied with the verdict and message that all persons within the Republic of South Africa are subject to the rule of law.”
The case has been postponed until August 12, 2022, for pre-sentence reports and sentencing.
In a statement the ANC in the province said: “The ANC is studying the judgment and its implications. The provincial leadership will, at the appropriate time and having processed this matter, issue a directive in line with policies of the organisation that relate to a member being convicted by a court of law.”
Ses’khona People’s Movement spokesperson and deputy president Unathi Mbengwana said the conviction was “unfortunate”.
“This judgment and conviction is once again saying that as long as you are poor, and come from previously-marginalised communities, the system will fail you. It only caters to the rich,” said Mbengwana.
“At no point on that day was Lili inciting violence. He was speaking about a woman’s body which was found at Site C in Khayelitsha, and crime affecting our communities. Had police acted faster, there could have been a different outcome. We are not happy with the court’s findings.”