State confident in Andile Lungisa assault trial

2018-04-03 18:00

The prosecutor in the assault case of ANC provincial heavyweight Andile Lungisa, told the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court that the State was confident that it had proved its case.

Wayne Ludick was presenting his closing argument in the case.

Lungisa pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The charge relates to allegations that he had smashed a glass jug of water over the head of mayoral committee member for roads and transport, Rano Kayser.  The incident took place during a council meeting in October 2016.

READ: Andile Lungisa leaves prosecutor, magistrate frustrated during cross-examination

In court on Tuesday, Ludick submitted that the State had called four witnesses, DA councillors Renaldo Gouws and Johnny Arends, as well as Kayser and council speaker Jonathan Lawack.

He said the witnesses never hesitated to answer any questions, whether they were put to them by himself, Lungisa's counsel, or the court.

The witnesses' testimony was also corroborated by a video of the incident, which Gouws had recorded, he argued.

This was in sharp contrast to Lungisa's testimony, which Ludick labelled evasive and riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions, the court heard.

"He was an extremely bad witness. Numerous times I had to remind him that he was not answering direct questions, to the extent that the court had to remind him," he said.

Ludick added that there were natural contradictions in the State witnesses' testimony, such as when Lungisa had picked up the jug. However, he added that this was immaterial because Lungisa had admitted that he was in possession of the jug, and that the jug had caused the injuries Kayser had sustained.

Ludick also submitted that the argument that Lungisa had acted in self-defence did not hold water because the video showed that, at the time of the attack, the people surrounding Lungisa were moving away from him.

He said the arguments that Lungisa's eyes were closed and that his intention was to throw the water at his attackers and flee, had never been put to any of the State witnesses.

"I believe he was never assaulted, he was the aggressor," Ludick said.

Lungisa acted in self-defence

Lungisa's attorney, Luthando Ngqakayi, submitted that, while there was a prima facie case of wrongdoing, the court needed to place itself in his client's situation.

"You have to ask, would a reasonable person have acted in the manner he did? And if the court finds [the person] would have, then it has to find on behalf of the accused," he said.

Ngqakayi submitted that the State had made light of inconsistencies in witnesses' evidence, but added that these were crucial because they were relevant to prove intent.

Ngqakayi submitted that Lungisa had acted in self-defence and said he was surrounded by members of the opposition and felt threatened.

"He made a split-second decision to neutralise the threat and flee," he said.

Ngqakayi said that Lawack's testimony that he had seen Lungisa approach and that he had felt threatened, was also not corroborated by the video, which showed Lawack standing and leaning forward.

"What we saw in the video [contradicts] his evidence. He does not act like a person who is threatened," he said.

'Co-authoring statements'

Ngqakayi added that Lawack had also testified that the DA caucus had come together after the event and had discussed the matter.

"This goes towards the consistency that the State claims. It's because they co-authored the statements," he said.

Ngqakayi said that, while he admitted his client had been evasive at times, he felt that Lungisa had merely been recounting the events of the day.

Ngqakayi conceded that his client had tried to diminish his role in the attack by saying he had merely intended to throw water at Kayser, but said the question was whether his client had felt threatened and had acted in self-defence.

"It is not unreasonable to argue that the accused took steps to neutralise a threat and then fled. It is classic self-defence," he said.

Magistrate Morne Cannon is to give judgment on April 17.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  andile lungisa  |  port elizabeth  |  courts

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