Mduduzi Manana’s defence lawyer, Michael Bill, suggested today at the Randburg Magistrates’ Court that his client be given a suspended 12-month sentence for a period of five years, that he attend anger management classes and that he pay a fine of R100 000.
The former deputy minister of higher education and training was appearing at his sentencing for three charges of assault with intent to perform grievous bodily harm. Video footage, which was widely circulated on social media, showed him attack three young women at the popular Cubana lounge in Fourways.
Bill also suggested that Manana perform 500 hours of community service.
“He must give back to society. He must use his position to give back and do community service,” Bill said.
He was referring to the recommendation proposed by the probation officer who is overseeing Manana’s case. The officer recommended that Manana complete 1000 hours of community service in addition to undergoing anger management classes.
In a packed courtroom today, Manana’s family sat in the front row in support of him, and Economic Freedom Fighters members sat towards the back. The court heard arguments and recommendations by the probation officer, criminal services officer, as well as his defence that, should Manana be sentenced to jail time, it would be non-conducive to his rehabilitation.
As per the recommendation, the three victims who were assaulted by Manana conceded that alcohol had played a role in the night’s attack.
“The victims did take a balanced approach, I must concede. As per the probation officers report, the family did recommend that he attend an anger management programme,” Bill said.
Bill began his argument today explaining the context of what happened that night, that while Manana and his group were having a private dinner, the victims began videoing and insulting Manana.
“In our country, the word ‘istabane’ is a derogatory word used to refer to gay people.
“Our courts are clear that calling someone gay is not defamatory because there’s nothing wrong with being gay. That word is used to oppress members of the gay community,” Bill said.
He placed continuous emphasis on how remorseful Manana was and hoped that the court would grant him “mercy” because he was undergoing rehabilitation and counselling.
He added that Manana had acknowledged his anger management issue and was determined to address it.
Despite the argument brought forward by Bill, prosecutor Anne-Marie Smith said that the court should not lose perspective of what happened that night.
“There were three men who attacked one woman. Three grown men who kicked and slapped and pulled her hair,” she said.
“Society expects the court to give him a proper sentence other than a fine, which is a slap on the wrist,” she said.
She also said that it was not his first brush with the law.
“He has two previous convictions of theft. Even if they were more than 10 years ago. But we have to look at the bigger picture here,” she said.
One count of theft involved Manana stealing a can of Coke. The other, Manana could not recall.
“He had taken a can of Coke and forgotten to pay for it, so he paid a fine of R500,” Bill said.
“A proper sentence needs to be given to him as it fits the crime,” Smith said.
She also agreed that 1000 hours instead of 500 hours of community service be completed by Manana.
Smith also recommended that Manana be put under house arrest and that he be prohibited from consuming any alcohol, regardless of whether he is conducting a business meeting.
“And then [also] that the court makes an order, that within seven days of the sentence being passed, the state will provide the victims’ bank accounts into which compensation must be paid,” Smith said.
Bill said the nature of Manana’s remorse was proven when he attempted to contact the victims himself after the incident.
“The community service needs to allow for him to consider his political interest and his everyday life,” he said, as he contested the amount of hours the National Prosecuting Authority wanted Manana to serve.
Manana, who is 33 years old, served as the deputy minister of higher education and training for five years before resigning after the assault was captured on video and shared on social media.
Sentencing will be handed down on Monday at 2pm.