Khusta tells why he stood up for Lungisa

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Siyabonga Se­sant sesants@ti­soblack­star.co.za

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.”

KHUSTA JACK

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