Former Nelson Mandela Bay ANC councillor Andile Lungisa says that on Monday he was summoned and interrogated by police intelligence and the Hawks from the “national office” for his alleged role in the recent civil unrest.
“The government has decided to recklessly characterise the protests that turned violent against the unjust arrest of [former] president Jacob Zuma [as having] been an attempted coup,” Lungisa said in a statement.
He said the initial prognosis of the unrest by the government was that of “ethnic mobilisation”.
They were forced to abandon that careless and divisive characterisation by the events and backlash from wider society. Coup attempts appear to be where [government is] prepared to sacrifice what’s left of its credibility,” he said.
He said that during the interrogation he was accused of having assembled an arsenal for the purpose of overthrowing the state and
“this is of course an outright lie.”
“Not only is this allegation baseless, but I have also never handled a weapon in my life. The next charge was that I broke Covid-19 regulations that are routinely broken by millions of people in the country and the offending parties are usually penalised with a fine if the police pursue them. The last charge was that I opposed Zuma’s arrest. On the last charge, I am in good company with the minority judgment of the Constitutional Court,” Lungisa said.
He said he offered the interrogating officers his phone to download whatever information could assist them in their investigation, but “they declined. I had done so with a clean conscience knowing that I was not party to any coup attempt. I was supportive of the protests against the unjust arrest of Zuma, but I never advocated any violence.”
He said he was subsequently told to go to the police station on Tuesday, when he would be given a official charge sheet.
I have just returned from the police station and I have only been charged with contravention of Covid-19 regulations. As I was leaving the police last night, one of the interrogators told me that the professionals in the security service also did not believe in what he called the ‘stupid coup story’, but were under political pressure from their seniors to make arrests on that charge.
“I will continue to fight against this attempted intimidation and criminalisation of political dissent. I will sue the state if they harm my reputation by painting me as a coup plotter. It would have been interesting for the state to make the charge of insurrection because it would have given me an opportunity to cross-examine the politicians who have caused all this anarchy,” Lungisa said.