Tears in court as UKZN 11 remain in custody

2016-10-12 06:00
PHOTO: nokuthula khanyile UKZN students outside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

PHOTO: nokuthula khanyile UKZN students outside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

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STUDENTS from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who came out to support the 11 detained burst into tears last Friday in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court public gallery upon hearing the 11 will remain in custody for another 10 days.

The 11 students - Wakeni Chuma, Siyathemba Magwaza, Minenhle Sibisi, Ntabane Kopedi, Mayibongwe Ngcobo, Palisa Langa, Lindokuhle Mhlongo, Thembeka Mpanza, Princess Shabalala, Siyabonga Mbambo and Noluthando Lubanya from the Pietermaritzburg campus - were detained on 22 September following a standoff with the police during protests over tertiary education fee hikes.

The students are facing charges of public violence, failing to comply with police, assault and malicious damage to property.

Prosecutor Pet Davids said the state had video­ footage showing the violent behaviour of the 11 students at UKZN.

“They were all seen throwing stones and bottles at the police. This is a direct contravention of the court order granted to the university indicating that students must desist from malicious behaviour. They also damaged the university’s property, police vehicles and motor vehicles.”

Davids argued that the state was opposing bail because the university premises were in danger and there was no guarantee of the safety of other students should the 11 be released.

“Since these students have been arrested, there has been peace at the university and lectures are continuing as per normal. If we release them on bail, we cannot guarantee this type of behaviour will stop.”

She said if the violent protests continued there was a high possibility of shutting down the university.

“This will impact others, who won’t get to write their exams and they will lose a year of studies. If this matter is not taken in a serious light, more serious cases will be brought before this court,” she said.

‘Advocate Mazwi Dlamini, representing the 11, said the state had no “real reasons” for opposing bail.

“The state says they are a danger to the university, but there is no real proof any of them damaged the property. This constitutes hearsay, there is nothing to prove it.”

Dlamini argued that keeping the students detained without bail would be unconstitutional stating that none of them had previous convictions or pending cases.

Magistrate Mamsy Boikhutso said she wanted to look at the video footage the state claims showed the 11 throwing stones and bottles at the university before she could finalise the bail application and come up with a decision.

She adjourned the case to 10 October for a bail decision.

Outside court, SRC president Sphelele Nguse expressed his disappointment with the outcome of the court proceedings.

“We are disgusted with how the matter is being handled. You can’t keep students in jail for such a long time, they are not criminals. We are very upset about the outcome of the bail hearing. We will go back and consult with other students and strategise a way forward. We want these students released.”

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