Arrested protesters released on warning, case postponed

2015-10-22 13:05
(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town - Twenty nine protesters, most of them university students, were released on a warning and their case postponed to February next year in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Kevin French, Markus Trengrove, Nathan Taylor, Chumani Maxwele, Kgotsi Chikane, and Lindsey Maasdorp were arrested on Wednesday during a protest against rising university fees that spilled over onto the Parliament precinct after students forced their way in. 

The 23 others were arrested at the University of Cape Town (UCT) on Tuesday while taking part in protests that have engulfed varsity campuses across South Africa. 

Prior to their release, Chikane, Maxwele, Maasdorp, Trengrove, Taylor, and French were brought into the packed court room from the holding cells, while the other 23 were released on bail after their arrest. 

The 29, many looking tired, were charged with taking part in an illegal gathering and public violence, while Chikane, Maxwele, Maasdorp, Trengrove, Taylor, and French faced an additional charge of trespassing. 

While in the dock, the 29 talked to one another, some smiling, some withdrawn and others with arms crossed. Some even took selfies.

When proceedings got under way, the state said the 23 arrested on Tuesday were released on bail on Wednesday night, while Chikane, Maxwele, Maasdorp, Trengrove, Taylor, and French were still in custody. 

The state had no objection to releasing those in custody. A postponement date of February 23 for further investigations to take place was proposed.

The eight lawyers representing the 29 agreed to the postponement date.

The lawyer of 63-year-old French, Bruce Hendricks, told the court his client was a father of two, had no previous convictions and had fully cooperated with authorities. He said he was representing the first-time-arrestee pro bono.

His said his other other client, 21-year-old Trengrove, was a full-time UCT student, had a BA in law, was a part-time tutor who had shown himself to be a diligent UCT employee, was currently doing honours in philosophy, and that this was also his first arrest.

His father is well-known lawyer Advocate Wim Trengove.

Trengrove intended pleading not guilty to all charges. His parents are in Johannesburg. 

Popo Mfubu, representing 24-year-old Chikane, whose father is ANC veteran and cleric Frank Chikane, told the court his client was a full time-student at UCT, intended pleading not guilty and had no previous convictions.

30-year-old Maxwele's lawyer said his client was doing a BA at UCT, had no previous convictions, intended pleading not guilty and would abide by bail conditions.

Taylor's lawyer said the 22-year-old was a fourth year UCT student studying finance, had no previous convictions and that this was his first arrest.

The magistrate said that in the interests of justice Maxwele, Mfubu, Maasdorp, French, Trengrove, and Chikane should all be released on a warning.

This prompted applause from students in the courtroom who hugged each other.

Read more on:    uct  |  cput  |  cape town  |  university fees

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