Andile Lungisa assault trial: Damning video played in court
Port Elizabeth – A damning video was entered into evidence in the assault case against ANC provincial heavyweight Andile Lungisa in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on Monday morning.
Lungisa and Gamalihleli Maqula, both ANC councillors in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, are facing charges of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, relating to a brawl in council chambers on October 27, 2016.
Lungisa is accused of smashing a glass jug over the head of mayoral committee member for transport, Rano Kayser, while Maqula is accused of stabbing chief whip Werner Senekal in the back with a sharp object.
They both pleaded not guilty as the trial got underway.
Damning video shows Lungisa smashing jug over Kayser
State prosecutor Wayne Ludick opened proceedings by calling DA councillor Renaldo Gouws to testify. Gouws took a series of videos during the commotion in council, which were then entered into record.
In the one video, Lungisa, wearing a suit and salmon pink shirt, can clearly be seen attempting to gain access to the speaker’s seat, which is on an elevated platform, in front of council.
Kayser can be seen approaching Lungisa and trying to take a glass jug out of Lungisa’s hands. Lungisa then raises the jug, as Kayser’s arm goes up in defence. Lungisa then slams the jug down over Kayser’s head. The glass jug shatters and water spills everywhere, as Kayser drops to the floor unconscious and bleeding from a gash to his head.
Gouws testified that he had recorded proceedings as had felt threatened by the behaviour of the ANC councillors who had become unruly when one of their councillors, Xola Sabani, had been asked to leave the chamber.
Gouws said he had not recorded everything, as he had been pointed at while recording, and he had not wanted to provoke tensions. He had, however, recorded when he noticed Lungisa approaching council speaker Jonathan Lawack with a jug of water in his hand.
"It is a firm rule that you do not approach the speaker," he said.
During cross-examination, defence attorney Luthando Ngqakayi pointed out that Gouws had also breached council regulations by making the recording.
Gouws said he had admitted to making the video and had paid a R50 fine for doing so.
"I didn’t throw a jug or break it over someone’s head," Gouws added.
Ngakayi said Lungisa would testify that he had only approached the speaker, as he was head of the ANC caucus at the time and he wanted to get Lawack’s attention.
He also asked if Gouws was not perhaps biased, as he was a DA councillor, to which Gouws responded that he was not.
Ngakayi pointed out that, at the time that Lungisa struck Kayser with the jug, there had been four people surrounding him. He said his client would argue that he felt threatened and had acted in self-defence.
'That’s when all hell broke loose'
Testifying after Gouws, Lawack said he had asked councillor Sabani to leave the chambers because of his unruly behaviour. In the video, Sabani can be seen banging his feet on the table.
He said, when Sabani failed to do so, he had instructed city manager Johan Mettler to get security to remove him, as he did not have the authority to do this himself.
Lawack said matters had escalated when ANC councillors prevented the security guards from reaching Sabani.
"That’s when all hell broke loose," he told the court.
He said two councillors - Lungisa and another ANC councillor, Makhi Feni - had approached him.
"It was clear from their approach that their intention was to intimidate me and attack me physically. Their intention was clear, they meant business," he said.
Lawack said Feni had reached him and grabbed him by the arm, before being blocked by a director from his office who had been seated next to him.
He then witnessed Lungisa attack Kayser. He said he had seen Kayser fall to the ground, bleeding profusely from a gash to his temple.
The case continues.