African National Congress (ANC) councillor Andile Lungisa, convicted of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and sentenced to two years jail time, should have as a leader “set an example” to councillors at the infamous 2016 Nelson Mandela Bay council brawl, according to the judgment handed down on Tuesday in the Grahamstown High Court which dismissed Lungisa’s application for leave to appeal his conviction and sentence.
Last year, Magistrate Morne Cannon found Lungisa 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.
The violent fracas saw blood being shed while other councillors received trauma counselling. 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 had previously said that the video evidence showed that there was no reason for Lungisa to hit Kayser, thereby dismissing Lungisa’s self-defence claim, adding that he was evasive, vague and contradicted himself.
The court also found that Lungisa lacked genuine remorse. The Grahamstown High Court found that Cannon was correct to accord the seriousness of the assault its appropriate weight.
“This was a violent crime. Kayser was struck so hard that the jug shattered. He was struck with force on a vital and vulnerable part of his body and almost two years later still suffered after effects.”
Judge Judith Roberson, with acting Judge Feziwe Renqe, found that Cannon was correct in considering that Lungisa was not remorseful.
“It was clear when he testified in mitigation that he did not accept responsibility for his actions. His repeated assertion that he accepted the court’s verdict could not be equated with remorse.”
The court found that Cannon was correct to accept the evidence of the state witnesses and to reject Lungisa’s version of events. The court found that Lungisa’s two-year sentence was “robust”. It might have imposed a lesser sentence “but the difference between what I would have imposed and the actual sentence imposed is not so appreciable that it is a ground for interference”.
But this is not the end of the road for Lungisa, who said that his lawyers would now approach the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein to reconsider the decision.