Seven of ‘11’ denied bail, four granted

2016-10-19 06:00
 PHOTO: Kailene Pillay

PHOTO: Kailene Pillay

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STRICT bail conditions were handed to four of the 11 University of KwaZulu-Natal students who were granted bail of R1 000 by Pietermaritzburg magistrate M. Boikhutso last Thursday at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s court.

The four who were granted bail are Minenhle Sibisi, Ntabankeka Kopedi, Lindokuhle Hlongwa and Samukelisiwe Lubanyana. The seven remanded in custody are Chuma Wakeni, Siyathemba Magwaza, Mayibongwe Ngcobo, Mbali Langa, Thembeka Mpanza, Nobuhle Shabalala and Siyabonga Mbambo.

Boikhutso said the students were granted bail on condition they do not return to the campus residences, where they currently live, and find alternate accommodation. They are also not allowed onto the university premises unless it is for their tests and/or exams or to attend lectures.

They need to have police escorts should they need to return to their residence to collect their belongings. They are also forbidden from engaging in any protest activities.

The students were arrested and charged with public violence, failure to comply with the police, interference with SAPS duty, assault of the SAPS and malicious damage to property.

During her judgment, Boikhutso said all the accused were confirmed as students at UKZN and were between first year and masters students who are all currently studying on bursaries. One of the female accused is a mother of two who’s children live with their grandmother out of town.

While the state vehemently opposed bail of the accused, the defence argued that keeping the accused in jail will inhibit them from writing exams and completing their year of studies.

Video footage, which was captured on the day of arrest 22 September, was submitted to the court, which showed some of the accused engaging in the violent protests. While the defence requested that the footage not be taken into consideration in the case, Boikhutso said she had already seen the footage and “cannot pretend” that she had not seen it.

Boikhutso said the accused had exercised their right to silence and pleaded not guilty.

“Violence must not be tolerated. All the accused are funded and therefore have nothing to lose financially. It cannot be said that the state does not have a case, the state has a strong case,” she said.

She added that everyone has a constitutional right to gather and demonstrate.

“We have rights that we have never had before and with these rights come responsibility.

“Any group or mob will not be allowed to hijack and violate the rights of other students and residents around the university.”

Boikhutso said that the students were in direct violation of the high court order which is currently in place stating that anyone who causes damage to university property will be prosecuted. The student’s defence teams said that the students were unaware of the High Court order.

“This is where the court must step in, particularly if there if there is sufficient evidence. There are other students who need to be protected and allowed to complete their studies. The safety of other students and residents will not be taken lightly.

“We must also have sufficient evidence indicating who the culprits are. In this case, there is,” said Boikhutso.

She went on to announce who the students were that would be granted bail cautioning them to adhere to the bail conditions and reminded them that their names and photographs would be given to the university security.

Cries from the parents, family and supporters of the accused could be heard as Boikhutso announced that bail was denied for the seven students.

The case will continue on 2 December at regional court.

Tensions ran high last week at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrates Court when a fight broke out between family of the accused students, who were denied bail and journalists who were covering the court case.

While journalists rushed to capture the scene on camera, some family members were angry that they were being photographed and videoed by journalists.

SAPS members tried to calm the group who became enraged. The incident was swiftly brought under control and journalists were allowed to leave the courtroom surrounded by police­.

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