#FeesMustFall student arrested for allegedly not pitching in court

A former Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) student was detained on a warrant of arrest for allegedly skipping a previous court appearance on charges related to the Fees Must Fall protests.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the State had been willing to accept a diversion programme for Sapho Mahilihili.

Diversion is when a lawyer brokers an agreement between the State and an accused for community service and for charges to be withdrawn once community service is completed. 

It has been taken up as an option by some of the student activists so that they do not have a criminal record for their part in the protests which began in 2015 and eventually led to the government overhauling is university funding system.

Mahilihili's case had been postponed to November 23, 2016, for Legal Aid to make representations to the State for withdrawal of the charges he faced.

"But the accused never came to court and a bench warrant was authorised," said Ntabazalila.

The warrant for the man whose nickname is "Propaganda" was authorised on November 23, 2016.

The police tried to arrest him but they could not trace him. They then had the bench warrant converted to a different warrant which meant they could circulate it for his arrest. 

IOL reported that he appeared in the Bellville Magistrate's Court on Monday, after being arrested at CPUT's Athlone campus on Saturday.

He had faced charges of trespassing, public violence and causing malicious damage to property. 

The case was postponed until September 26.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said Mahilihili was no longer a CPUT student.

Students have marched to Parliament to demand that the cases against them be dropped because even the government ended up agreeing with them on the fees issue.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha has told them to lodge formal applications to have the decisions to charge them reviewed, and that the department will help with this, and with applications for pardons for those already found guilty of charges related to the protests.

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