Khusta tells why he stood up for Lungisa

Mkhuseli Jack
Mkhuseli Jack
Image: Supplied

Despite his notoriety to some, ANC councillor Andile Lungisa deserved as good a shot as anyone else at a fair sentence for his crime.

This is why Port Elizabeth businessman Khusta Jack stood up for Lungisa in court this week in a last-ditch effort to persuade magistrate Morne Cannon not to throw in him in jail.

Lungisa was sentenced to an effective two years in prison on Wednesday for smashing a glass jug over DA councillor Rano Kayser’s head during a brawl in council in 2016.

Cannon found that Lungisa had demonstrated no remorse for his actions but had shown regret upon realising the possible legal consequences of his crime.

Jack, an anti-apartheid activist and a staunch critic of Lungisa’s political conduct, said he had been approached by a group of “comrades”, including ANC veteran Mike Xego, to represent Lungisa in mitigation of sentence.

He said while in court, he had been taken aback when the prosecutor showed him how unremorseful Lungisa had been, especially considering that minutes after the incident two years ago, the councillor appeared visibly shaken.

“I met Lungisa and his friends at the Shisa restaurant at the harbour minutes after the incident. They were shell-shocked.

“That is the picture I have about the whole thing. They were so shocked and so remorseful.

“I did not even need to lecture them about democracy and how to do these things. While the case was happening, that is what was in my mind the whole time,” Jack said.

While he agreed with the court’s verdict, he had hoped that the magistrate would consider other options available in law to sentence Lungisa.

“I am not quarrelling with the court’s finding. There are established facts. One of them is that Andile did not go to council to beat somebody up.

“The commotion that took place there, which was wrong and crazy, was done by everybody who was in that house.

“They threatened each other. It does not matter who started it. But it was in that context that he happened to beat somebody.

“But the victim was never his target, it was not predetermined.

“The magistrate could have given him a suspended sentence. They could have imposed a fine. That’s a heavy penalty on its own.
“We understand, in the magistrate’s wisdom, and maybe correctly so, Andile did not show remorse.

“I’m not disputing that. He read Andile’s body language, not that much what he was saying and that’s how he came to this sentence.”

However, Jack said he believed the court had relied too heavily on Lungisa’s apparent lack of remorse and sentenced him harshly even though there was no consistent pattern of violent behaviour shown in court.

Jack said those who had asked him to testify were hoping he could share “the other side” of Lungisa.

Asked about the other side of Lungisa, Jack said: “He is a respectful guy. He is dedicated to the cause of uplifting the poor, to serve our nation.

“He believes in it. How he goes about it obviously is a matter of different opinions. I fundamentally differ with the tactics he uses. Andile is one of those people who believe that the winner takes all, he believes in the survival of the fittest in the political terrain.

“Those things are in contrast with democracy.”

Asked if he understood why his decision to testify had raised eyebrows – particularly because he had built a reputation as an activist against crime and corruption – Jack said mitigating for someone was provided for in the law.

He said he had spoken to Lungisa and clearly stated the need to show remorse “beyond reasonable doubt”.

“That was the key thing that we knew he was going to fall or stand on.

He said while Lungisa was notorious, he was a public figure looked up to by many young people.

“To send him to jail, we have seen a lot of people go to jail on small crimes. And they graduate into becoming horrible criminals.

“Jail is correct, but as a last resort, not the first action [when someone] shows no remorse. The thing that Andile needs he will get it outside. “And I suggested that they can organise for him political lessons on democracy and how to use power.

“If he were to be an example of that, if he were to be used to disseminate that information elsewhere, then we would be going somewhere.

“I have been against all forms of criminality, but to go overboard in dealing with it can also cause more trouble.”