Fees Must Fall activist's release a victory for EFF - Malema

2017-03-01 18:19
Julius Malema and Bonginkosi Khanyile's mother Phumzile Khathini. (Sisa Canca, News24)

Julius Malema and Bonginkosi Khanyile's mother Phumzile Khathini. (Sisa Canca, News24)

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Johannesburg – Fees Must Fall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile’s release from jail was a victory for the Economic Freedom Fighters, party leader Julius Malema said on Wednesday.

Malema was talking following the Constitutional Court’s decision to release Khanyile on R250 bail. 

Khanyile was challenging the decisions by two lower courts to deny him bail. 

The court gallery was packed to capacity with journalists, Malema, EFF members, and students.

Other members of the EFF protested outside court.  

"He was fighting a just cause and, therefore, he was wrongly arrested. He was not fighting to be put in jail; he was fighting for free education," Malema told reporters.

"As the EFF, we don’t dump our own. We don’t send them to the battlefield and turn against them like other parties do. We fight for our members. We even fight for members of other parties."

Malema said they had approached the National Prosecuting Authority after the Supreme Court of Appeal advised them to do so.

"We went to the NPA and said let’s talk, and then NPA refused to talk to us. [They] declined, even the offer which was made by the Supreme Court of Appeal. That is arrogance because the NPA is acting through political instructions.

"The NPA is no longer independent. The NPA is micromanaged by [President] Jacob Zuma who wanted to close down the campaign on Fees Must Fall."

Khanyile's mother Phumzile Khathini addressed members of the EFF soon after her son was granted bail.

She thanked party members for supporting her son, adding that their support strengthened Khanyile.  

Earlier on Wednesday, prosecutor Andy Bester told the full bench of justices that the reason the lower court did not grant Khanyile bail was because he was influential.

"He is a law breaker," Bester said.

He said Khanyile had been expelled from a college before.

"He had threatened police and has expressed himself in favour of damaging property. He has shown he would tell his followers to assault the police," Bester said.

However, Bester said Khanyile could be given bail on the condition that he did not intimidate staff or obstruct police or any personnel.

Khanyile’s lawyers had earlier argued that the court must decide on granting him bail.

"The correct outcome is, the court should itself grant bail," advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said.

Ngcukaitobi and advocate Dali Mpofu argued why it was in the interests of justice for the Durban University of Technology student to be released.

Ngcukaitobi said the Durban magistrate who denied Khanyile bail relied solely on claims that he would endanger society. She had placed undue emphasis on his alleged past conduct, without properly deducing the facts, he said.

Khanyile was arrested with 28 other people on February 4, 2016, on various charges related to the countrywide fees protests. The next day, he was granted bail, with conditions, but was arrested again on September 27 during further protests.

He faces charges of convening or gathering without notice, convening or attending an illegal gathering or demonstration, interference with police duties in an illegal gathering, and trespassing.

'Seeking to make an example of the applicant'

Mpofu said Khanyile could not be said to have breached his bail conditions merely by attending a gathering. Nobody was prosecuted for the alleged unlawful gathering, he said.

"Authorities are seeking to make an example of the applicant."

He said that, according to the prosecution team, Zuma had instructed authorities to clamp down on Fees Must Fall protests, and that they had wanted to make an example of Khanyile.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said Mpofu's statement was dangerous because it meant the magistrates and judges were part of these authorities.

Night vigils, solidarity meetings and protest marches had been held to call for his release.

Mpofu said Khanyile passed his exams with four distinctions and they were dealing with someone whose future should be considered.

Two bail applications to the Durban Magistrate's Court were refused, as was an appeal to the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. He then applied for special leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The case was set to be heard on January 27. However, on January 17 the court issued an order dismissing the application for special leave to appeal.

The State agreed to release him on two conditions that he may not intimidate staff or obstruct police or any personnel.  

Read more on:    eff  |  julius malema  |  johannesburg  |  fees must fall  |  university fees

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