Treason talk outrageous - wife of activist arrested alongside students

2015-10-22 11:26
(Tina Hsu, News24)

(Tina Hsu, News24)

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Cape Town - The police action against protesting students at Parliament was "unnerving", the wife of a 63-year-old activist arrested alongside students said on Thursday.

Linde French, wife of activist Kevin, who was arrested alongside Markus Trengove, Nathan Taylor, Chumani Maxwele, Kgotsi Chikane and Lindsey Maasdorp at Parliament on Wednesday, also said talk of treason was outrageous.

"It is outrageous... It's also very unnerving seeing those policemen dragging them around yesterday. It reminds me of a time best left forgotten," she said.

The Hawks have since clarified reports of treason charges being brought against the protesting students, rejecting them as "malicious rumours".

French was speaking outside the Cape Town Magistrate's Court, where the six, plus 23 other students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) who were arrested earlier this week, were expected to appear later on Thursday morning.


French said her husband was protesting because he had always been an activist and had a child at UCT.

According to her, the six were in Bellville until the early hours of the morning and were hoping for good news once the court case got underway.

"We will just have to wait and see. Hopefully the strong student presence will also be a positive for us."

The six were arrested outside Parliament on Wednesday after students protesting university fee increases managed to force their way through the precinct gates just before Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene began his mid-term budget speech.

Chaos ensued after police used stun grenades to push the students off the precinct through the two gates from which they had entered.

The other 23 students were arrested on Tuesday at the UCT campus during the ongoing fee protests, which were taking place on campuses across South Africa.

It was expected the 23 would be split into two groups for their appearance, with one of them apparently told by a policeman the court was too small to accommodate such a large group.


Ashref Mahomed, a lawyer representing the 23, told students and media gathered outside the court he expected his clients to face charges of participating in an illegal gathering and, possibly, of public violence.

The appearance would take around 30 minutes, depending how quickly the docket was dealt with.

"Treason is not on the cards for the 23 students appearing today. I am getting more information regarding the other six," he said.

Mahomed later said he had been told the six were now also coming to Cape Town Magistrate's Court for the cases to be co-ordinated.

They would all appear around 11:00 when the matter was called.

The 23 needed to prepare for the matter to drag on for a couple of months, as the case would likely require further investigation.

Many of the 23 were accompanied by their parents, with supporters initially trying to enter the courtroom but were later, along with the 23, directed to wait outside on the street as the large number of people present was proving disruptive.

According to the Hawks, the six would be charged with trespassing and contravening the Gatherings Act.

A mother of one of the 23, a first year student studying maths and physics, said she protested in the 1970s and was very proud of her son.

"He is not doing it for himself because we can afford the fees. He is doing it for everyone," the mother said.

There were also rumours circulating that another protest would be held outside Parliament on Thursday, among others to take place around the country.

Read more on:    cape town  |  university fees

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