Seven of UKZN 11 denied bail

2016-10-26 06:00
UKZN students come to support the 11, who appeared before the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.PHOTO: nokuthula khanyile

UKZN students come to support the 11, who appeared before the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.PHOTO: nokuthula khanyile

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STUDENTS and parents in the public gallery broke down in tears at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court last Thursday when Magistrate Mamsy Boikhutso delivered her judgment on the bail application of 11 University of KwaZulu-Natal students, who have been in custody since 22 September.

Boikhutso only granted bail to four of the applicants basing her judgment on the video footage that showed some students throwing stones and bottles at the police and passing vehicles.

Chuma Wakeni, Siyathemba Magwaza, Mayibongwe Ngcobo, Mbali Langa, Thembeka Mpanza, Nobuhle Shabalala and Siyabonga Mbambo will remain in jail until the start of their trial.

Addressing the issue of the video footage, which the defence had, during bail submission, asked her to disregard, Boikhutso said during bail proceedings the court may require the prosecutor or defence to place evidence before it to strengthen a case.

“I find it difficult to disregard the footage as evidence when it was brought before court for the purposes of determining if the state had a strong case or not. Viewing the footage provided this court with important evidence and I, therefore, refuse to disregard it,” she said.

Boikhutso said the video footage, filmed between 9am and 12.20pm, was captured on the day the students were arrested.

“In the footage, police are seen observing students across Alan Paton Road, they [students] started out peacefully singing and around 10.30am things escalated and the gate at Malherbe residence was broken down.

“The students then started throwing stones at the police and passing vehicles. They also threatened other students passing by and around 12pm disrupted classes at the law venue.”

She said it cannot be said that the state has no case against the students as the defence had collectively presumed.

“I take notice of the fees must fall campaign, it is a national crisis and universities across the country have been affected by the protests and there have been disruptions of classes.

“However, at UKZN the campaigning has become violent, there has been a constant clash with the police and private security that has escalated into full-scale violence,” she said.

Boikhutso said although Section 17 of the Constitution says students have a right to protest the condition was that the gatherings must be peaceful.

“With every right comes responsibility, any group or more will not be allowed to deny the right to safety of other students and residents around the university vicinity. The rule of law must prevail and the prevention of future conduct must take account of past conduct.”

Further she said the court had a responsibility to check if there was a probability that the applicants will not abide by the bail conditions if granted.

“There was a high court order by the university restraining students from participating in any protests and yet the applicants are in court facing the very same charge.

“Other students need to be protected and allowed to continue with their studies and that is where the court must step, in particularly if evidence has been presented to say justice will not prevail if the applicants are released on bail.”

Boikhutso said the safety of other students and residents cannot be taken lightly. She said there has been a public outcry about violence directed at the protests at the Pietermaritzburg campus and there was sufficient evidence against some in this case.

The case was adjourned to 2 December for a regional court decision.

The four students, who were released on bail last Thursday, will have to adhere to strict conditions or find themselves back in jail.

The students, Minenhle Sibisi, Ntabane Kopedi, Lindokuhle Hlongwa and Samukelisiwe Lubanya, were each granted R1 000 bail by Magistrate Mamsy Boikhutso after she said they were not directly implicated in the five charges they are facing.

Boikutsho said while awaiting trial, the students who were granted bail had to relocate to alternative addresses and not be seen at university residences.

“While awaiting trial you are not allowed to be seen in and around UKZN unless you are going there to attend lectures or write exams.”

She further warned they were not to participate in any protests that are violent in nature or turn to violence.

“Those who need to go back to the university to get their belongings will have to engage the services of the police and be escorted to get all their stuff. Your bail conditions will be forwarded to the campus security so they know your names and know you are not allowed to be seen there.”

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