The African National Congress (ANC) has forged ahead with plans to get rid of Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa, suspending him from the party.
According to TimesLive, Lungisa received his letter of suspension on Tuesday, 8 September 2020. The decision was in response to a court judgement which found Lungisa guilty of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
This comes after Lungisa struck a fellow Nelson Mandela Bay councillor over the head with a glass jug filled with water, in October 2016, during a sitting.
"He has a sanction and has been convicted. His judgment is not pending. The NEC said those who have been judged by a court of law must resign…Lungisa has a criminal record and was found guilty by a court of law having fought in a council chamber," the ANC's provincial spokesperson Loyiso Magqashela is quoted as saying.
Defence: Lungisa's sentence 'too harsh'
Lungisa, a former ANC Youth League leader, was subsequently sentenced to an effective two years behind bars – which could hinder his future efforts to hold a position in public office.
He has challenged the decision made by the The Eastern Cape High Court in Grahamstown, after it rejected his appeal against the conviction. Lungisa has approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein and the matter is still being considered.
Lungisa's legal team have argued that the sentence was too harsh, given that he is a first time offender and does not believe it suits the actual crime.
The ANC's decision to suspend Lungisa also follows the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting at the end of August, where it was resolved that members facing charges would be asked to immediately step aside from their duties.
"Those formally charged with corruption must immediately step aside from all official positions pending finalisation of their cases," said ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa when giving feedback on the resolutions taken at the meeting.
The party faces immense pressure to act against graft allegations, particularly after some of its members found themselves implicated in dirty dealings linked to the procurement of lucrative personal protective equipment (PPE) tenders.
However, the timing of Lungisa's suspension might be suspicious to factions within the ANC, as it came after he called for Ramaphosa to step down. The former councillor is a staunch supporter of the movement's former president Jacob Zuma.