Former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) deputy chairperson Andile Lungisa is optimistic that the two-year jail sentence handed down to him in 2018 will be overturned when his appeal is heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal on August 17.
This should pave the way for Lungisa to launch “an untainted campaign” to become ANC chairperson in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Lungisa told City Press that he and his legal team were confident that the three-year sentence, with one year suspended‚ handed down by the Port Elizabeth Magistrates’ Court in 2018 for his assault on DA councillor Rano Kayser “with intent to cause grievous bodily harm” would be overturned.
Lungisa hit Kayser over the head with a glass water jug without provocation during a heated council meeting in October 2016.
Magistrate Morne Cannon said the court had handed down such a tough sanction because “it was clear that Lungisa showed no remorse for his actions”.
“There is a direct difference between true remorse and regret‚” said Cannon during his ruling.
Lungisa said he was convinced that his continued “peaceful” and “civil” working relationship with Kayser in their duties as councillors in Nelson Mandela Bay ought to demonstrate to the court that there was no bad blood between the two and that the regrettable incident happened in the heat of the moment.
Speaking to City Press, Kayser said: “Firstly, I would like to say that the appeal process that Lungisa has undertaken is leeway afforded to him by the Constitution and is his democratic right to pursue.”
He added that he had great faith in the justice system and would appreciate whatever the outcome was because the system has continued to prove itself fair.
Kayser elaborated that his interactions with Lungisa were limited to their duties as council members and that he must sometimes interact with Lungisa, who is a member of the mayoral committee for infrastructure and engineering, when he raises pertinent issues relating to his constituency.
“We are not friends and our interactions are limited to our work,” said Kayser.
Lungisa’s legal team argues that there was “no premeditation” and that the incident occurred during a council sitting in which a fight broke out, resulting in the wielding of hand-held objects that he and other members used as weapons.
Lungisa’s legal team is seeking to convince the court that there was no intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and to have the sentence significantly reduced to a possible fine.
Those who support his campaign said that it was almost guaranteed that “he will be nominated without being contested”.
However, “the challenge has come in the sense that there are constant questions regarding his conviction, hence the push to have his conviction overturned”.
His detractors apparently continue to remind those supporting his bid that chapter 7 of the Constitution clearly states that, should the court not overturn the ruling, Lungisa will not be able to retain his role as councillor.
According to the Constitution, individuals with a criminal conviction and those who have received a sentence of more than 12 months without the option of a fine are not eligible to hold public office.
Lungisa wants to take over the position of Nelson Mandela Bay chairperson, which was left vacant after the ANC provincial executive committee disbanded the regional structure in 2018, leaving it in the hands of a regional task team after citing a decline in membership.
A new regional executive committee was scheduled to be elected at a conference from March 27 to 29, but the national lockdown brought those plans to a halt.
Besides trying to have his conviction overturned, Lungisa also faces pressure from the youth league in Nelson Mandela Bay, which has called for the removal of several ANC councillors, including him.In a letter to ANC provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi earlier this month, ANCYL regional task team convener Bongani Mabusela urged the party’s provincial structures to intervene against those he termed “rogue councillors”.
Mabusela said the councillors last month defied a direct instruction from the ANC regional task team when they voted in favour of housing director Mvuleni Mapu to be appointed as acting city manager.
According to Mabusela, Ngcukayitobi had directed the party’s caucus not to ratify Mapu’s appointment to replace Noxolo Nqwazi as acting city manager, saying the decision was illegal.
However, 31 councillors voted in favour of a resolution that Mapu be appointed, while 22 voted against, meaning that some members of the ANC caucus defied Ngcukayitobi’s directive.