The judges in the matter of Nelson Mandela Bay ANC councillor Andile Lungisa have expressed “consternation” at his claims of political interference and corruption.
The President of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) Mandisa Maya, the SCA judges concerned and the Judge President of the Eastern Cape high court Selby Mbenenge issued a statement on Wednesday refuting the claims.
Addressing supporters when he presented himself at the North End prison in Port Elizabeth last week, Lungisa claimed there was “collaboration” between a certain individual, the magistrate and the prosecutor assigned to his case.
He added, “It went to Grahamstown [where] the Judge President comes from Mthatha, and then [he] was controlled [on] what judges would be selected and what would be the outcome.
“It went to Bloemfontein [where] the majority of judges come from the Eastern Cape. When our matter was there, the husbands of the judges who presided over my case were then promoted [and] given advisory positions in the Premier’s office in the Eastern Cape. Their children were given contracts here in the Eastern Cape. And then you expect there would be a fair outcome?”
‘Allusive and false remarks’
However, SCA President Maya and the judges said Lungisa’s “allusive and false remarks undermine the integrity of the judiciary and judicial independence and constitute contempt of court and crimen injuria offences.”
They added that criticism of the judiciary should be “fair and made in good faith.” It should also be specific and clear.
“Efforts to discredit the judiciary by levelling allegations of corruption against the judiciary as a whole or against individual judges without proof, or seeking to allude to an alignment between individual judges and political figures or role-players without any further substantiation, must be condemned,” they stated.
The judges urged members of the public to present evidence of corruption or undue influence against judges and be willing to testify in court.
“Without evidence, such allegations cannot be investigated. The rights of President Maya, the SCA judges concerned and Judge President Mbenenge remain reserved, and they have demanded a retraction of the offensive remarks from Mr Lungisa,” they added.
Lungisa began his two-year sentence last week after his appeal against the sentence failed at the SCA. He was convicted of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in 2018 after smashing a glass jug on another councillor’s head in 2016.
However, he has filed another appeal for a lesser sentence at the Constitutional Court. On Monday, his application for bail pending the determination of the appeal was heard at the Grahamstown magistrate’s court. The ruling is expected this Friday.