‘Victory’ for UKZN students

2016-11-23 06:01
PHOTO: nokuthula khanyile The seven UKZN students, who were granted bail by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

PHOTO: nokuthula khanyile The seven UKZN students, who were granted bail by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

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A TOTAL of 10 students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Pietermaritzburg campus arrested during Fees Must Fall protests emerged victorious last Thursday after being granted bail by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The students, who are facing charges of public violence, interfering with police duty, malicious damage to property, contempt of court and failing to comply with police, launched a second bail application after being denied bail by the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on 13 October.

The first seven, Chuma Wakeni, Siyathemba Magwaza, Mayibongwe Ngcobo, Mbali Langa, Thembeka Mpanza, Nobuhle Shabalala and Siyabonga Mbambo, were each granted R1 000 bail after spending 49 days behind bars following their arrest on 22 September.

The other three, also granted R1 000 bail, Xabiso Mantanga, Nduduzo Nsibande, and Sicelo Qwabe, were initially denied bail because they were identified as part of the violent group inciting unrest at the university.

The trio was arrested after being trapped by police at the William O’Brien­ residence on October 1.

Granting the first seven appellants bail, acting judge Bongani Zaca said magistrate Miranda Boikhutso had misdirected herself by using the video footage as a primary basis to not grant the appellants bail after the legal representatives said they will argue the admissibility of it as evidence.

“The magistrate did not make known the contents of the video footage she observed to reach her decision for bail denial. She misdirected herself in refusing bail to the appellants in reliance on the video footage.”

Zaca said for the other three appellants, the magistrate also misdirected herself on the basis that they did not have relevant identification or a reasonable explanation why they were at the aforesaid residence.

In his submissions, while lodging the appeal, attorney André Chetty, representing the students had argued that the decision by magistrate Boikhutso was a “fatal flaw”.

“There was no logical reason for what the magistrate saw in the footage she viewed. It was grossly incorrect of her to view the footage in isolation without the presence of the students’ representatives. There was also no mention of a date or time of how it was going to be viewed. She refused them bail as punishment for the offences they had committed.” said Chetty.

State prosecutor Martin Mntambo conceded the students be granted bail, but urged that they be warned not to infringe on the rights of other residents during protests.

“The state, pointing out the shortcomings of the magistrate, is not condoning what is happening at tertiary institutions around the country. We should not lose sight of what is happening there, students need to be warned not to interfere with other people’s rights while engaging in these activities.”

Bail was granted under strict conditions that the students are not to participate in protests or demonstrations that are violent in nature.

The seven students are expected back in court on 2 December - the trio will be back in court on 22 November.

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