- The judiciary has responded to allegations of political interference and corruption at the Supreme Court of Appeal and Eastern Cape High Court.
- These remarks were allegedly made by former ANC Youth League president Andile Lungisa before he handed himself over to a correctional facility.
- Lungisa was convicted in 2018 for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The country’s top judges have taken offence over allegations of political interference at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and Eastern Cape High Court.
The president of the SCA, Mandisa Maya, SCA judges and the judge president of the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court, Selby Mbenenge, have noted with consternation the remarks allegedly made by Andile Lungisa intimating his case was not “fairly decided due to the political and familial affiliations of the judges’ undue influence at the respective courts”.
The SCA judges include justices Nambitha Dambuza, Caroline Nicholls, Sharise Weiner and Nolwazi Mabindla-Boqwana.
“These allusive and false remarks, which undermine the integrity of the judiciary and judicial independence and constitute contempt of court and crimen injuria offences, are reported to have been made when Mr Lungisa handed himself over to authorities at the North End Prison in Port Elizabeth to begin serving his two-year sentence following a conviction on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm,” the spokesperson for RSA Judiciary, Nathi Mncube, said in a statement on Wednesday.
This after Lungisa, who is a Nelson Mandela Bay ANC councillor and former ANC Youth League president, was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in 2018 after he smashed a glass water jug over DA councillor Rano Kayser’s head during a scuffle in the council in 2016.
Lungisa tried to appeal the sentence before the SCA which rejected his application.
He had since approached the Constitutional Court with the hopes of overturning his conviction, News24 reported.
Mncube said the judicial management of each court was the responsibility of the head of that court and this included the assignment of judicial officers for sittings and cases.
“Once this function has been exercised by the head of court, the judge assigned hears the matter and arrives at a decision based on the law and the facts placed before him or her.
“It is the responsibility conferred on each judge through the oath or affirmation taken on assumption of office to enable him or her to adjudicate disputes honestly and impartially on the basis of the law and the evidence, without external pressure or influence and with fear or interference from anyone,” he added.
The judiciary stated any criticism against it should be “fair and made in good faith” and such criticism should be “specific and clear”.
It said in a statement:
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.
Maya, the SCA judges and Mbenenge said any person with credible evidence of corruption or undue influence within the judiciary should come forward, produce evidence and be willing to testify to it in a court of law or before any commission of enquiry.
“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,” Mncube added.
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