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WATCH: Convicted Fees Must Fall activist says he won't leave Union Buildings until presidential meeting

21 August, 07:48 PM

"Pardon me Mr President, pardon me!

Pardon us Mr President, pardon us!"

Those were the chants from Durban University of Technology Fees Must Fall student activist Bonginkosi Khanyile outside the Union Buildings on Tuesday. Khanyile was convicted of public violence on August 13 at the Durban Regional Court.

Khanyile, accompanied by his mother, had hoped to deliver a petition requesting pardons for all students convicted for their activities during the Fees Must Fall movement. He said he would sleep outside the Union Buildings until he could hand his memorandum over to the president in person.

Joined by EFF ‘ground forces’ from around Gauteng, Khanyile says he decided to come to the Union Buildings purely through frustration after his conviction for public violence.

“My mother is born-again, my late father was a pastor, so where would I have learnt violence from?’’ Khanyile said, as his mother passed a look of approval.

The Union Buildings, usually relatively open to the public, had all vehicle and pedestrian gates closed to most visitors. Only crowds of Chinese tourists were allowed through the pedestrian gates as the students protested what they saw as preferential treatment.

SAPS members deployed at the building took down the names of the leaders of the group, with the promise of passing on their message to the office of the President.

Notwithstanding this gesture, several students left the group in search of mattresses and bedding.

Bonginkosi Khanyile and his mother were preparing for at least one long and cold night in the open, as Khanyile insists he will not leave the area until he has an audience with President Ramaphosa.

As he settled in for the evening, the Union Building's effigy of Nelson Mandela’s outstretched arms appeared to be Khanyile's only hope from absolution.

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