ANC councillor Andile Lungisa's conviction and two-year sentence for assault was upheld on Tuesday. He smashed a glass water jug over the head of DA councillor Rano Kayser, who was seriously hurt. Picture: SAM MAJELA
ANC councillor Andile Lungisa's conviction and two-year sentence for assault was upheld on Tuesday. He smashed a glass water jug over the head of DA councillor Rano Kayser, who was seriously hurt. Picture: SAM MAJELA

Nelson Mandela Bay ANC councillor Andile Lungisa’s appeal against his conviction and effective two-year jail sentence has been dismissed in the high court in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown).

Lungisa was convicted of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm after he smashed a glass water jug over the head of DA councillor Rano Kayser during a heated council meeting in October 2016. The incident was recorded on another councillor’s cellphone. Kayser sustained serious injuries.

Judge Judith Roberson‚ with acting judge Feziwe Renqe agreeing‚ dismissed Lungisa’s appeal against both his conviction and sentence on Tuesday.

During conviction proceedings‚ Port Elizabeth magistrate Morne Cannon said Lungisa had proved to be a poor witness who changed his version of events as the trial proceeded.

Lungisa is on bail of R10‚000. He was released in May 2018 after serving 16 days of his sentence.

After the judgment Lungisa took a swipe at the Eastern Cape high court bench, describing the ruling as a “hometown decision”. He said he will take the matter on appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal. He has seven days in which to apply to the Supreme Court of Appeal for an extension of his bail pending his appeal or reapply to the high court in Makhanda for bail.

Roberson admitted that the effective two years’ imprisonment is “robust” and that she might have imposed a lesser sentence. However, she said: “The difference between what I would have imposed and the actual sentence imposed is not so appreciable that it is a ground for interference.”

The high court agreed with the trial magistrate that the unarmed Kayser posed no threat to Lungisa. Roberson said Lungisa’s defence of defending his life could therefore not stand.

Lungisa’s conduct on the stand during trial proceedings played a pivotal role in the court’s decision to dismiss his appeal.

“In my view, Lungisa was simply not a credible witness,” Roberson said, calling the quality of his evidence poor.

“He adjusted his version as he went along. He was a very evasive witness. His version grew and changed in the telling and was difficult to follow. His evidence of the alleged attack on him chopped and changed.

“The manner in which Lungisa struck Kayser on his head, as shown in the video, is not consistent with an attempt to throw water on him. Lungisa raised the jug in the air and brought it down on Kayser’s temple.

“He didn’t give a persuasive reason why he hit Kayser very hard with the jug when his intention was to throw water at him,” she said.

She said Lungisa’s version in court differed so much from the version he gave to police on the night of the incident that one might think he was describing two different events.

“Nobody dived at him, trying to take him down. He did not jump over anyone. Kayser did not try to hit him with a fist. He was not assaulted many times on the back as he tried to run away. His version of being attacked before he hit Kayser was completely discredited.”

Roberson said Lungisa is a democratically elected councillor who represents the community, which is entitled to expect a certain standard of conduct from him.

“Trust is betrayed when a councillor exhibits behaviour, especially criminal behaviour, contrary to the purpose for which he was elected. I don’t think the [trial] magistrate saw the community as a vengeful mass uninterested in the moral and social recuperation of one of its members,” she said.

Commenting on the judgment, Lungisa said: “It’s fine. I am disappointed but we are fine.”

kimberleyk@tisoblackstar.co.za