PORT ELIZABETH - ANC Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa testified in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Monday, that he was “very scared” the moment he hit a glass jug over a Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor’s head during a council fracas in October 2016.
Lungisa is accused of smashing a glass jug over the head of mayoral committee member for transport, Rano Kayser. He is facing charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm relating to the brawl which broke out in council chambers.
In the witness box on Monday, Lungisa testified that on that day ANC councillors became unhappy when Speaker Jonathan Lawack asked ANC councillor Xola Sabani to leave the chamber.
The meeting saw blood being shed while other councillors received trauma counselling following a violent fracas.
Lungisa said that he approached Lawack’s assistant, to request the Speaker to adjourn the meeting.
He said that he wanted to take the ANC councillors out of the chamber to restore order amongst the caucus.
When Lungisa approached the Speaker’s bench, it was at this stage that three DA councillors apprehended him, Lungisa claimed.
He said two DA councillors held him on either side gripping his shoulder and restraining his hands behind his back.
Lungisa said he then saw Kayser unbuttoning his shirt and charging for him.
Defence attorney Luthando Ngqakayi asked: “What made you take the jug?”
Lungisa responded: “Because I was being held from side to side and Rano was coming for me, I thought that I would throw the water and run.”
In the video footage previously aired before court Lungisa was seen smashing the glass jug over Kayser’s head.
Lungisa said: “At that stage my eyes were closed and I wanted to get away. I ran away and as I was running I was being assaulted that is why I ran.”
The ANC provincial heavyweight told the court that Kayser and himself had been on good terms, and the DA councillor would bring him chocolates and sweets during council meetings, up until now.
Lungisa, who is responsible for instilling discipline and imparting political education to the ANC caucus, was questioned by Magistrate Morne Cannon as to why he did not tell his caucus to behave.
“The reason I spoke to the Speaker’s assistant was so that I could approach the Speaker to take an adjournment. I couldn’t take councillors out while the meeting was underway,” Lungisa told the court.
Lungisa maintained that the Speaker approved an item on the agenda that was not in accordance with the rules of council, adding that ANC councillors were unhappy about the removal of their colleague.
“It was chaotic, people were standing when the item was passed. We were not happy and it was not done according to the rules. As a leader I had the responsibility to approach the Speaker,” he said.
Lungisa will continue testifying on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, earlier on Monday, co-accused in the case ANC councillor Gamalihleli Maqula was acquitted on charges of assault to cause grievous bodily harm.
He was accused of stabbing council chief whip Werner Senekal with a sharp object during the council brawl.
Magistrate Cannon found that there was no evidence to convict Maqula, adding that a video taken by former United Democratic Movement (UDM) councillor Mandla Faltein did not carry much weight.
“In my view, the video is not of much assistance to the State on whether [Maqula] stabbed or injured Senekal. In the video it is clear that [Maqula] is unarmed,” said Cannon.
The magistrate said that even when Senekal testified he struggled to identify himself in the video clip.
Cannon said Senekal had conceded that he did not know when, where or who had stabbed him, adding that his injuries could have been sustained on two other occasions during the council brawl.
African News Agency/ANA