Fees Must Fall activists to visit convicted comrade in Pretoria en route to Union Buildings

Fees Must Fall activists will visit convicted activist Kanya Cekeshe in prison on Sunday, as part of their march from Isandlwana in KwaZulu-Natal to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Led by activist Bonginkosi Khanyile, the group wants to petition President Cyril Ramaphosa to free Cekeshe, who is reportedly serving a five-year sentence for setting a police van alight during the 2016 uprising.

In August last year, Khanyile, himself facing jail time for crimes committed during the 2016 protests, also marched to the Union Buildings, to ask for presidential pardons for those activists who had been convicted. 

Public violence

The Durban University of Technology student was convicted of public violence, possession of a dangerous weapon and failing to comply with a police instruction after admitting to some of the allegations against him. He is expected to be sentenced in January.

At the time of Khanyile’s protest last year, the Presidency said it was misdirected, as it should have been targeted at the Department of Justice. Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said then that there were clear processes in place for those seeking presidential pardons, and that the president could not interfere with the prosecutorial decisions of the National Prosecuting Authority. He also could not decree a blanket amnesty for the activists, she said.

On Sunday, Khanyile tweeted that the group of about 40 protesters would be accompanied by Cekeshe’s family to the Leeuwkop prison where he is being held. There, they planned to give a memorandum to the head of the prison, Khanyile said. He also tweeted a letter from Cekeshe, in which he thanked the group for their support. 

On Friday, Khanyile tweeted that the group was marching from Greylingstad to Heidelberg that day, covering 53 kilometres. 

The group left KwaZulu-Natal on December 18.

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