In a bizarre attack yesterday on the magistrate who convicted Andile Lungisa, the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay claimed the judgment was a politically driven ploy to destroy him and said its members were “mobilising” against it.
Regional secretary Themba Xathula said in a statement that the party wanted magistrate Morne Cannon removed from the case, claiming he was insensitive to the “political implications” of convicting the ANC councillor.
Lungisa was found guilty on Tuesday of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, after he hit DA councillor Rano Kayser with a glass water jug during a heated council meeting in October 2016.
The incident was caught on video, a clip of which was presented as evidence in court.
Lungisa will be sentenced on May 9.
Xathula said in the statement: “The ANC in the Nelson Mandela region would like in no uncertain terms to make it clear that we are against the judgment.
“We would like for the court to consider changing the judge as he has proven to not be sensitive to the political implications of the case and the tensions in the political space it might cause if not handled with care and the fairness it deserves.
“We are not blind to the fact that this case is political and therefore its outcomes might be driven by political agendas to criminalise and at best destroy comrade Lungisa.
“This is not to say we have no confidence in the judiciary and its ability to be objective, but also we are not naive to the inverse.”
Xathula called on members to be disciplined and to allow Lungisa to appeal against his conviction.
“We would like to encourage them to exercise restraint and patience as we are receiving information that there are groupings that are mobilising themselves against the judgment.”
The ANC took issue with Cannon’s assertion that although the incident took place in a political context, the case had nothing to do with politics but was in fact a crim- inal matter.
“We differ with the logic that the [magistrate] used to arrive [at] his conclusion,” it said.
“Firstly, the council is a political terrain and is a contested political space between political organisations with extreme differences on societal outlook.
“Secondly, comrade Andile was in attendance in the council meeting as a deployed by the ANC and therefore his participation in that council is political.”
The ANC said the court relied on footage which did not capture Lungisa’s actions in context.
“The footage doesn’t capture the manhandling and how comrade Andile’s space was invaded and threatened.
“We believe that the footage is political because, firstly, it was captured by a member of the opposition and specifically isolates comrade Andile’s actions in exclusion of other council members.
“Of course, as the ANC, we understand that in society no one is neutral and that is true even for our judges and the judiciary,” Xathula said.
The footage was captured by DA councillor Renaldo Gouws.
NPA spokesman Tshepo Ndwalaza said the prosecuting authority was satisfied with the judgment and the ANC was entitled to its own opinion.
“We believe that we’ve done what we were supposed to do in a court of law and maybe they will have to do the same in a court of law,” Ndwalaza said.