Charges have not fallen for 7 Cape Town #FeesMustFall protesters

2018-05-03 17:27
UCT student Masixole Mlandu with his lawyer Lufuno Musetsho at the Wynberg Regional Court (Jenni Evans, News24)

UCT student Masixole Mlandu with his lawyer Lufuno Musetsho at the Wynberg Regional Court (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Fees may have fallen, but not the court cases of seven of the people arrested during protests in Cape Town. They appeared in court in Wynberg on Thursday to hear that their cases had been postponed yet again.

First up was University of Cape Town (UCT) political science graduate Masixole Mlandu, taking time out from his honours degree in the course to be in court for the his trial related to the #FeesMustFall protests that swept the country from 2015.

His trial was supposed to have started last week in the Wynberg Regional Court, but it was postponed to Thursday (today).

This was to allow for more documentation to be given to his lawyer, Lufuno Musetsho.

"We have handed in the document the State relies on. We have arranged for a trial date of 27 June," said prosecutor Rajen Pillay on Thursday morning.

Mlandu stood in the dock alone, the public gallery almost empty, in contrast to his earlier appearances on four charges relating to an alleged incident at the office of the university's security manager on October 12, 2016.

The charges Mlandu faces are:

  • Malicious damage to property for allegedly banging on the blinds of security manager Steven Granger's office "with intention to injure" him or his or the university's property;
  • Public violence relating to a gathering of around 25 people "unlawfully" assembled to disturb the peace and allegedly threatening the security manager;
  • Contempt of court for allegedly disobeying a court interdict and allegedly inciting violence at UCT;
  • Contravention of the Intimidation Act for allegedly threatening Granger to remove security officers.

Immediately after Mlandu's appearance, Musetsho rushed down the steps to the District Court where he was representing five more people charged with alleged violation of a court interdict issued during the following year, in 2017, and one for alleged public indecency.

Sihle Lonzi, Khayalethu Maneli, Ndumiso Gina, Nsovo Shandlale and one other person whose name was not immediately available all face charges of allegedly violating the 2017 interdict.

Qondiswa James faces charges of public indecency relating to an alleged naked protest.

Shandlale was ill and not present. The rest stood silently, barring an annoyed correction from one, over the mispronunciation of James' first name by a court official when they were called.

With one wearing a UCT scarf and cap, the students stood in the dock as the court heard that they were making representations to the director of public prosecutions to motivate why the cases against them should not go ahead.

Mlandu's own attempt at petitioning the director of public prosecutions to not go ahead with his case failed.

R7bn additional funding for higher education

The representations process for the other six is expected to take six weeks, so the case was postponed to July 6.

All had their bail extended.

In December 2017, former president Jacob Zuma announced fee-free higher education for students from poor and working-class backgrounds.

In April, Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor announced that government had made billions available for tertiary education, but that students had to fulfil strict criteria to get the money.

She said government had set aside additional funding of R7.166bn in 2018 – R4.581bn for qualifying university students and R2.585bn for technical vocational education and training (TVET) college students.

"As a result the baseline allocation to NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) to support poor and working-class university and TVET students will increase from the R9.849bn in 2017/18 to R35.321bn in 2020/21," Pandor added.

Read more on:    masixole mlandu  |  naledi pandor  |  university fees  |  feesmustfall

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