‘I didn’t think I would make it’

Rano Kayser speaks out about fate­ful as­sault in coun­cil cham­ber that al­most cost him his life

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I SAW him pick­ing up the jug. I looked him in his eyes, think­ing maybe he was go­ing to pour wa­ter on me. But then I saw it com­ing for my head and in the next mo­ment I felt pain, like my skull was crack­ing.”

This is what DA coun­cil­lor Rano Kayser, 41, re­calls of the mo­ment ANC coun­cil­lor Andile Lungisa smashed a glass jug filled with wa­ter over his head at the fate­ful Oc­to­ber 27 2016 coun­cil meet­ing.

Lungisa was this week sen­tenced to two years’ direct im­pris­on­ment which he will serve out at the Port El­iz­a­beth North End prison.

His le­gal team plans to pe­ti­tion the high court to chal­lenge his con­vic­tion and sen­tence after their ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal was dis­missed in the Port El­iz­a­beth Mag­is­trate’s Court.

Asked how he feels about the sen­tence and whether or not he be­lieves that jus­tice has been served, Kayser says he re­spects the out­come of the court, but does not re­joice that Lungisa is now be­hind bars.

“While it was a vic­tory for jus­tice, it is equally not a time to re­joice,” he says.

“I must ad­mit that I don’t re­joice be­cause the con­se­quence is that a col­league has been sen­tenced to jail, and this could, per­haps, put an end to the po­lit­i­cal ca­reer of a young politi­cian.”

It has been al­most two years since that dra­mafilled day, which even saw a gun­shot fired in the coun­cil cham­ber to break up the fra- cas, but it re­mains etched in Kayser’s mind for­ever.

Did Lungisa ever per­son­ally apol­o­gise to Kayser?

“The first coun­cil meet­ing after the in­ci­dent, he said to me ‘Kayser, we must talk’, but it never ma­te­ri­alised.

“I learnt about an apol­ogy through two of my col­leagues the evening be­fore the sen­tenc­ing. Other than that, there has never been an apol­ogy,” Kayser says.

“When the jug smashed against my head, I fell and was un­con­scious. When I came to, I re­mem­ber see­ing coun­cil­lors Dun­can Monks and Shirley Sauls.

“Coun­cil­lor Sauls kept on prod­ding a yel­low pen against my eyes, try­ing to keep me awake. I vividly re­mem­ber that yel­low pen.

“Monks took off his tie and tried to put it on my wound, but it wasn’t help­ing. He then took off his shirt,” Kayser says.

It is all a blank there­after un­til he woke up in the am­bu­lance.

“Even when I re­gained con­scious­ness, I was con­fused. What went through my mind is whether or not I

I don’t re­joice be­cause the con­se­quence is that a col­league has been sen­tenced to jail, and this could put an end to the po­lit­i­cal ca­reer of a young politi­cian

would make it,” he says.

“When I ar­rived at the hospi­tal, the doc­tor said ‘you’re lucky to be alive’ be­cause the cut was very close to my tem­ple.” He now suf­fers headaches and short-term mem­ory loss, he says.

He sus­tained a 3cm gash to the head, a 1cm cut to his chest, mul­ti­ple lac­er­a­tions on the left side of his neck and a fur­ther 4cm cut to his chest.

At first, he was an­gry. But that soon dis­si­pated, Kayser says, to the ex­tent that he even shared his sweets with Lungisa in later coun­cil meet­ings.

“I used to be seated di­rectly in front of him and when he saw me eat­ing sweets, he would ask me for one and I would share. I knew that the in­ci­dent at that Oc­to­ber meet­ing was in the court and I chose to rise above it.” But he was al­ways on the alert. “Even though he sat be­hind me in coun­cil meet­ings, I didn’t feel threat- ened. I knew that Oc­to­ber 27 meet­ing was an ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tion. How­ever, I was al­ways ready for any­thing that could hap­pen.”

In reach­ing his de­ci­sion that Lungisa should spend time in jail, mag­is­trate Morne Can­non high­lighted that Lungisa had shown lit­tle re­morse for what he had done and only re­gret­ted be­ing con­victed.

There has been an out­cry from some within ANC cir­cles about the jail term im­posed, say­ing it is too harsh. Oth­ers have la­belled it a po­lit­i­cal war waged by the DA against the ANC.

Asked what he thinks of the back­lash, Kayser said: “It is nor­mal to be afraid of the un­in­tended con­se­quences of the ver­dict.

“Some say ‘Rano is the prob­lem’. But how do you blame the vic­tim?

“It was han­dled by the courts and that’s it. And peo­ple need to re­mem­ber that . . . it was Lungisa who first opened a case against me.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRIAN WITBOOI

GOT NO APOL­OGY: Rano Kayser dis­cusses his or­deal at a coun­cil meet­ing last year IN­SET: As he looked shortly after be­ing at­tacked with a glass jug filled with wa­ter

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