Port Elizabeth - "I am not a violent person," convicted African National Congress (ANC) councillor Andile Lungisa told his supporters gathered outside the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on Friday, shortly after he was released on bail pending a petition against his conviction and sentence to the Grahamstown High Court.
Lungisa's release comes 16 days after he started serving his two-year sentence after he was was found guilty of intentionally smashing a glass jug over the head of former mayoral committee member for transport, Rano Kayser, during a chaotic 2016 Nelson Mandela Bay council meeting.
Lungisa was granted R10 000 bail pending a petition to the Grahamstown High Court. Lungisa's lawyers are petitioning the Judge President of the Eastern Cape after Magistrate Mornay Cannon dismissed an application for leave to appeal his conviction and sentence. Only if the petition is granted, will Lungisa be able to have another court re-look at his conviction and sentence in the hope that it may be overturned.
His brother Ayongezwa told reporters that the family would be footing the legal bill. "There is nothing we won't do for Andile as a family. When we grew up, he would have done anything for us. My mother never thought I could go to varsity, it was all through him."
Ayongezwa said the family would sell any assets they have to make sure Lungisa was represented. He also said that the family welcomed any form of assistance in the form of donations towards Lungisa's legal bill.
Last month, Lungisa was found guilty of intentionally smashing a glass jug over Kayser's head. Evidence presented before court included a video taken by Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor Renaldo Gouws, which showed how Lungisa slammed the jug over Kayser’s head, before he fled and how Kayser fell backwards and landed on the floor.
Cannon found that the video evidence showed that there was no reason for Lungisa to hit Kayser, thereby dismissing Lungisa’s self-defence claim.
In his petition papers, Lungisa claimed that he acted with negligence which was insufficient for the court to convict him on a charge of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Lungisa argued that he should have been acquitted on the basis of his subjective belief that he acted in defence, papers cite.
"All of us were never violent. We were never going to be violent today and we are not going to be violent tomorrow. Everyone who attended the council meeting in Nelson Mandela Bay metro knows that Andile Lungisa was standing and he was attacked by three councillors from the DA. They had no authority from moving from their own chairs to go and attack Andile Lungisa," he told supporters on Friday.
Lungisa said that he respected the judiciary but the judiciary needed to be fair.
Cannon who granted Lungisa bail on Friday criticised the defence legal team for the way in which the bail application was initially brought late on Thursday, with both the court and prosecution receiving documents at the last minute.
Cannon said Lungisa appeared to have received special treatment by the Department of Correctional Services who seemed to have "flouted their own rules" by transporting him from the North End Prison to the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court at very late hours in the afternoon on Thursday.
“The impression given was that the accused was given special treatment,” said Cannon.
Senior Public Prosecutor Clive Kilian earlier also expressed unhappiness and said it was unacceptable how the bail application was brought. The State, however, did not oppose bail.
Lungisa’s brother Ayongezwa said Cannon’s comments about special treatment were unfortunate and not true. “Even when we went to see him [at prison] there was never an incident where we were allowed to see him when we were not supposed to. We never brought food. He said to us 'don’t bring me food, I will eat what is available here and sleep on the blankets here'.
“I don’t know on what basis of allusion he received special treatment. Andile is a special person, he would have intimidated the judge. Those comments were out of a self-inferiority complex,” he said.
Lungisa was released after Cannon found that it was unlikely that he would abscond. He was ordered to report to the Kabega Park police station twice a week. In addition, Lungisa is to report to the clerk of the court if his petition was granted or leave to appeal his conviction and sentence was successful.
African News Agency/ANA