‘Violent’ seven denied bail

2016-10-14 10:12
Supporters of the UKZN 11 clash with journalists inside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. Students seated in the public gallery attempted to stop journalists from taking photographs.

Supporters of the UKZN 11 clash with journalists inside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. Students seated in the public gallery attempted to stop journalists from taking photographs. (Kailene Pillay)

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A woman screamed and others cried when a magistrate denied bail on Thursday to seven of the so-called UKZN 11 students.

Magistrate M. Boikhutso said it was not in the interests of justice to grant bail to the seven because there was video evidence showing them being violent.

They were remanded in custody until December 2 pending further investigations.

Four others — Minenhle Sibiya, Ntabankeka Kopedi, Lindokuhle Hlongwa and Samukelisiwe Noluthando — were released on bail of R1 000 each but with strict conditions including one banning them from the UKZN campus except to write tests and exams or attend lectures.

Moments after Boikhutso adjourned the case tension erupted between supporters in the public gallery and members of the media.

As a woman cried hysterically the supporters in the gallery took umbrage at photographers and cameramen focusing on the emotions in court. They tried to stop them, lunging and shouting at the media until police intervened.

Journalists were escorted out of court.

Supporters of the students who got bail huddled around calling fellow students, friends and family in an attempt to raise the money for their release.

Boikhutso said the four students could return to their residences after the case, with a police escort, to fetch their personal belongings. They would stay at the alternative addresses they had provided until their trial begins.

Magistrate Boikhutso said the four students were not allowed on the campus or in the vicinity of the university unless they are attending lectures or writing examinations.

They were also released on warning that they were not allowed to participate in any protest that could turn violent.

“These bail conditions would also be forwarded to the campus and the security company so they know should they see you on or around campus,” Boikhutso said.

The 11 students face charges of public violence, failure to comply with police instructions, interfering with police duties, assault of police and malicious injury to property.

A further charge of contempt of court was added to their charge sheet.

The state “vehemently” opposed bail for all 11 students, saying there was video footage implicating all 11 students.

But Boikhutso said she watched the footage and “expressly” informed the students’ legal representatives that some students were seen on the footage.

She said defence attorneys had asked the video footage be disregarded in the case as it would be disputed at trial and the validity of the footage would be questioned.

However, Boikhutso said she “cannot pretend as if I didn’t see the footage”.

“Innocent people were caught up in the middle and I assessed the footage according to its worth and I refuse to disregard the footage,” she said.

According to the video footage, Boi­khutso said all students were seen peacefully singing and standing in one place, but at around 10.30 am they broke the gate to the Malherbe residence.

“They were then seen throwing stones at police and passing motor vehicles. This group was also seen threatening other students and disrupting lectures at the Law building,” she said.

Boikhutso said the UKZN campaigning and protest in the national Fees Must Fall campaign was “violent” and there were constant clashes with police and university security.

“It has now escalated into a full scale riot,” she said.

Although according to the Constitution, every person had a right to gather, petition and demonstrate, “with rights come responsibilities”.

She said the 11 students were well funded and had nothing to lose financially but there were other students who needed to be protected and allowed to complete their examinations.

“Any group or mob will not have the right to hijack the rights of other students around campus,” she said.

Honing in on the public’s view of the Fees Must Fall campaign, Boikhutso said the public outcry was generally against the campaign.

She said in this case there was sufficient evidence indicating who the culprits were.

The seven students who were refused bail are Chuma Wakeni, Siyathemba Magwaza, Mayibongwe Ngcobo, Mbali Langa, Thembeka Mpanza, Nobuhle Shabalala, and Siyabonga Mbambo.

Read more on:    #feesmustfall  |  pietermaritzburg

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