The DA will be questioning the conditions under which former Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Eastern Cape, ANC councillor Andile Lungisa was released from prison, as well as the processes that were followed subject to his release.
This was according to Eastern Cape DA leader Nqaba Bhanga, who, on Tuesday, told City Press that his party hoped that “the department of correctional services had followed every aspect of the law in relation to his release”.
“We hope that there was no law broken in this regard and that when we, as the DA, pose questions to the department, they give us the right answers,” he said.
“We are going to ask questions to the police commissioner, we are going to ask questions to the minister of police in the national assembly, about the processes that were followed in releasing Lungisa.”
In a statement released by the party on Tuesday, Bhanga said: “The DA believes Lungisa’s release, even taking all parole regulations into account, is irregular and makes a mockery of our justice system. Accordingly, the DA’s shadow minister of correctional services, James Selfe, on Monday, posed questions to the portfolio committee on correctional services in this regard. Answers to these questions are expected on Wednesday.”
Bhanga’s words come after Lungisa, a former ANC Youth League deputy president was granted parole and released from prison on Tuesday morning.
He had spent 75 days behind bars following his conviction and sentence of three years in prison in 2018, with one year suspended, for assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He was found guilty of smashing a glass jug on the head of DA councillor Rayno Kayser during a scuffle in council in 2016.
He served part of his sentence at the North End Prison in Port Elizabeth.
Bhanga added: “We hope that there was no favour or political interference in the case of Lungisa, because, if there was, it will send a bad message to the South African public – that if you are a politician, you can commit a crime, assault someone and only spend 75 days behind bars because you are politically connected.
“If Lungisa was treated like any other South African ... qualifies for parole, that is fine. He had to face the consequences of his actions. He cannot be treated like a hero. But if there was favour shown to him, action must be taken.”
A statement from the department of correctional services said that Lungisa’s release conditions were in accordance with the law.
“Classified as a first time offender with a positive support system and having responded positively to rehabilitation programmes, parole placement for Lungisa is in line with Section 73(7)(a) of the Correctional Services Act ... The act determines the minimum period of sentence that must be served before consideration for possible parole placement.
This must be read together with Section 276(1)(i) of the Criminal Procedure Act, as it stipulates a mandatory one sixth of the sentence to be served before any consideration for parole,” the statement read.
"Lungisa was initially admitted on May 9 2018 to serve a two year sentence. However, he was released on bail on May 25 2018 after having spent at least 16 days pending his appeal application. He was readmitted into the corrections system, to continue with the sentence, on September 17 2020, after his appeal application was unsuccessful. The special remission of sentences granted by President Cyril Ramaphosa on December 16 2019 reduced Lungisa’s sentence by 12 months. More than 14 000 inmates benefited from the remission."
According to the statement, Lungisa will serve the remainder of the sentence in the system of Community Corrections, “wherein he will be expected to comply with a specific set of conditions and will be subjected to supervision until the sentence expires”.
“South Africa is using a parole system that is progressive in nature and based on international best practice. Offenders who are placed on parole are expected to comply with conditions and failure to comply may result in the parolee, depending on the frequency and seriousness of the violations, having parole revoked and sent back to a correctional facility.”
Addressing the media following his release on Tuesday, Lungisa commended individuals, including former president Nelson Mandela, who he said had managed to do the unimaginable by spending the amount of time he did in prison.
He said: "It was not easy in prison just to sleep a second day.”
Lungisa added that a change in the ANC leadership was necessary.
“What we need is a generational take over. We need a change in the leadership of the ANC,” he said.
“For us to move away from being a British satellite we need a new generation which can fight for control of the entire South Africa, where we can have full ownership of our country, where we can preside over the issues of our own country without any interruptions.”
He also took a moment to share his thoughts on the current Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
“You will watch the Zondo commission. While state money is being used incorrectly, we have people who are unemployed. But we have a commission which has been running for three years,” he said.
“You don’t need a commission for a case of corruption. If you have a case against Lungisa, go to a police station and table evidence and open a case.”