Offer to assist students locked up for #FeesMustFall protests still stands - Lamola

2019-08-27 22:06
Thousands of protesters hold up signs as part of the #FeesMustFall campaign. (Gallo images, Jaco Marais, file)

Thousands of protesters hold up signs as part of the #FeesMustFall campaign. (Gallo images, Jaco Marais, file)

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Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said despite an agreement reached between his predecessor, the director-general of the justice and constitutional development department and student leaders in the #FeesMustFall protests, student leaders have failed to bring to the department a collated list of students locked up for their roles in the protests.

Despite this, Lamola said the offer to assist the students "still stands" and "the hands of the department are tied" should they not receive any applications for either expungement or a presidential pardon. 

News24 previously reported Lamola's predecessor, Michael Masutha, said his department would assist anybody still facing charges with legal aid, which included being able to appoint lawyers from private firms at no cost to the accused.

Just over a year ago, students protesting outside Parliament, some of whom were facing charges, said the government had pumped money into the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to make education free for more students, but those who were arrested faced being branded as criminals and would not be able to get a job.

Answering questions put to the peace and security cluster in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday, Lamola was asked about the progress being made with regards to the students' demands. 

EFF MPL Sam Zandamela asked him whether any progress had been made in securing presidential pardons for students who were arrested during the #FeesMustFall protests and what the relevant details were. 

Lamola said: "I have been informed by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development that there has been a demand by the students for blanket amnesty for students arrested and prosecuted because of the #FeesMustFall protests. 

"The students were informed by my predecessor that there are no provisions in law which provide for a general blanket amnesty in such cases.

"There are two processes available in law presently, namely; to apply for a presidential pardon which is a presidential constitutional power in terms of Section 84.2 [j] of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa if a custodial sentence has been served or; to apply for an expungement of a criminal record in terms of Section 276[1][i] of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 as amended if a non-custodial sentence was imposed on the offender.     

"I am further informed that there had been an agreement by my predecessor, Minister Masutha, the director-general of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the student leaders concerned that the list of all such students will be collated and submitted to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The department will then assist the relevant students to complete the relevant forms concerned.  

"Since the offer was made, to date, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has not received such a list from the student leaders nor such a request, nor indeed any relevant application for a presidential pardon, nor any application for any expungement of a criminal record. 

''The offer by the department to assist the relevant students still stands. The hands of the department are tied if we do not receive any applications," said Lamola. 

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Read more on:    ronald lamola  |  fees must fall protests

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