Bail decision for UKZN 11 expected

2016-10-19 06:00
PHOTO: ian carbutt The UKZN 11 wait for their bail application to be heard in the magistrates court.

PHOTO: ian carbutt The UKZN 11 wait for their bail application to be heard in the magistrates court.

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THE 11 students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus, who were hoping to be released on Monday will only know their fate today (Thursday) when Magistrate Mamsy Boikhutso delivers her judgment on their bail application.

The students, Chuma Wakeni, Siyathemba Magwaza, Minenhle Sibisi, Ntabane Kopedi, Mayibongwe Ngcobo, Palisa Langa, Lindokuhle Mhlongo, Thembeka Mpanza, Princess Shabalala, Siyabonga Mbambo and Noluthando Lubanya, are facing charges of public violence, failing to comply with police, assault and malicious damage to property.

The students have spent 21 days in custody since they were arrested on 22 September following their clash with the police during protests over tertiary education fee hikes.

In their last court appearance, Boikhutso postponed the matter in order to view video footage the state claimed identified the 11 students before she would make a ruling.

However, even though on Monday Boikhutso was due to deliver her judgment, it emerged that Advocate Mazwi Dlamini had withdrawn as the students’ legal representative.

The 11 secured services of five other legal representatives, who then requested permission to reopen the case and make new submissions in the bail application.

The attorneys argued that the students had been in custody too long for a schedule one offence.

Attorney André Chetty, representing accused one to accused three, said it was in the interest of justice that the students be granted bail. The state had opposed bail on the grounds that the group posed a danger to the public and students at the university.

Chetty and four lawyers agreed the state had failed to provide evidence to prove that the incarcerated students will endanger the public should they be released.

He also called on the magistrate to exclude the evidence of the video footage citing that the defence had not had sight of it.

Advocate Thembinkosi Nene said should the students continue being kept in custody they will not finish their studies as exams had been postponed to 1 December.

“The court should bear in mind that the students­ are innocent until proven guilty. There are ongoing negotiations nationally to resolve the matter of protests. To incarcerate them further might have a negative impact on the negotiations. The students have said they are not prepared to continue with negotiations while others­ are in jail,” said Nene.

Nene said the 11 students had no power to cause the university to shut down as had been suggested by the state.

The attorneys stated that none of the students had been aware of the context of the court order obtained by the university against them.

Attorney Sbani Nzimande said the state had no proof to say the students were aware of the court order, and disregarded it. He added students should not be denied bail as a means of punishment.

Prosecutor Pet David said the students had crossed the line and behaved in a criminal manner.

“As the court, we need to be pro-active to criminal behaviour, violence should not be tolerated. These students have crossed the line from being students to thugs. There are other students on campus, who are being denied their right to attend lectures. What about parents whose fork out physical cash to send their children to university?”

David said the court order was given to all heads of student representatives and the state could not take responsibility for whether or not it reached the students.

All 11 students intend to plead not guilty to the charges.

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