UKZN eight still in jail after protest

2016-10-04 15:00
The eight students in court on Monday.

The eight students in court on Monday. (Ingrid Oellermann)

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Moments before police, security detain News24 reporter

2016-09-30 16:06

News24 reporter Kaveel Singh and a student were detained at UKZN.WATCH

Eight more University of KwaZulu-Natal students charged with public violence were remanded on Monday while the state prepares to oppose their bail application next week.

This was in spite of an impassioned plea by attorney Phumlani Fakude on behalf of one of the eight students, Spetho Mazibuko (21), who Fakude claimed was “not even part of the #FeesMustFall campaign”.

“He [Mazibuko] was arrested on the night of Friday, September 30 … at the time he was going to buy food when he was arrested,” he said. 

But magistrate Variksha Premraj told Fakude he could place the facts on record during the bail hearing, set down for October 11 in respect of all eight students.

Fakude is only representing Mazibuko; the other seven students are being represented by Kabir Sangham.

Prosecutor Patti David said the state wanted the students’ bail application postponed because the investigators still had to verify their “profiles”, including their student numbers to check if they are indeed registered students at UKZN. 

“It will also not be in the interests of the safety of the university [to give them bail],” she said.
Fakude was not happy. 

“The verification of the student numbers and registration should have already been done,” he said, adding that it appeared the state was purposely arresting students and then requesting adjournments to verify addresses and student registrations to justify postponements.

He said the students were in possession of their student cards when arrested and the police could have checked if they were registered or not by yesterday.

However, Premraj said the court had “taken a decision to grant the postponement”.

She said the state had the right to apply for seven days to verify information.

The students sat quietly in the dock while the arguments unfolded.

Afterwards, the police wasted no time leading them out of the courtroom, some of them waving goodbye to friends seated in the packed gallery.

The students were camera shy and bowed their heads in a bid to avoid photographers (including a television cameraman) who took their pictures before the magistrate entered the court.

Three of the students — Speto Mazibuko, Siphelele Mtshali (21) and Sanele Sibiya (24) — who were arrested for an incident on Alan Paton Avenue, are charged with public violence for allegedly throwing “stones and broken roof tiles” at police and UZKN security guards.

Five other students, who were arrested in the vicinity of the William O’Brien residence, are charged separately with public violence for “throwing stones and broken bottles” at police and UKZN security guards.

All the students are alleged to have contravened a high court interdict obtained by the university on August 31.

There was a strong police presence at court on Monday to prevent possible disruptions by unruly students, but the hearing went off peacefully.

At one stage, while waiting for the arrested students to appear, some supporters in the gallery started to hum, but they were quickly reprimanded by police and told to be quiet as the sound started vibrating through the courtroom. They complied.

After the case adjourned yesterday, #FeesMustFall activist Xola Mehlomakulu voiced the anger felt by himself and other students over the arrests and detention of their collegues.

“They are trying to scare us and stop us, but we will not stop. Our struggle will not end … We want free education,” he said.

Mehlomakulu said the justice system “will never favour the African child”, adding that the eight students were arrested for no reason.

He alleged some had been “going to buy bread” when they were arrested, and that one student was “beaten up and arrested” because he had asked police why they were arresting other students.

The arrests took place between 10 pm on Friday night and around 2 am on Saturday, he said.

None of the eight has been charged in connection with an incident of arson in which protesting students allegedly set fire to a computer room at UKZN, which was extinguished by the university security. UKZN said in a statement at the weekend that the fire had destroyed five computers.

The bail application in respect of the eight is scheduled to take place a day after magistrate M. Boikhutso is due to give judgment in the bail application of the UKZN 11 on Monday, October 10.

Boikhutso said on Friday that she wanted to view video footage that the state alleges shows the students involved in “acts of violence”, before giving her ruling.

The UKZN 11 face five charges of public violence, disobeying police and interfering with police in the course of their duties, assault and malicious injury to property.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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