Ekurhuleni metro hires Fees Must Fall convict and July riots suspect Bonginkosi Khanyile

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Bonginkosi Khanyile in court.
Bonginkosi Khanyile in court.
Jabulani Langa

  • Fees Must Fall instigator Bonginkosi Khanyile was appointed strategic adviser for Ekurhuleni MMC for community services, Bakang Lethoko.
  • Lethoko's portfolio encompasses health and social development, sport, recreation, arts and culture and customer relations management.
  • Khanyile said he would use the opportunity to prove he is a leader and not a criminal.

Bonginkosi Khanyile, who was convicted and jailed for public violence, possession of a dangerous weapon and other offences during the student protests in 2016, has a new job in local government.

The Patriotic Alliance (PA) member is now the strategic adviser for the Ekurhuleni metro MMC for community services, Bakang Lethoko.

The appointment was confirmed on Tuesday by the mayor's spokesperson, Warren Gwilt. 

Lethoko, who represents the PA has a portfolio which encompasses health and social development, sport, recreation, arts and culture and customer relations management. She is one of two MMC's from the PA in the multiparty government. 

Speaking to News24 on Wednesday, Khanyile said this was his opportunity to prove that he is incorruptible.

Special project | July unrest: One year later

"My mother was told many times that her son was a Fees Must Fall criminal and that he would die a criminal. I'm in a position now where I am a leader and where I can prove that I'm not just a person who complains about leadership.

"When I left [the EFF] I was like a stone rejected by the builders but Kenny [Kunene - deputy president of the PA] and Gayton [Mckenzie - president of the PA] came after me when I was down and out. 

"[Kunene] pursued me and we spoke for months. He said the people of South Africa still need a young leader. [Mckenzie] sold the mission to me, what he was saying, I related to.

"I went to prison but I'm a government official now, the people who live in Ekurhuleni live under my leadership. From prison to government."

Speaking of his Fees Must Fall days, Khanyile said this was an opportunity to put his education into practice. 

READ | ANC presidential race: Mkhize, Sisulu remain resolute amid Zuma's call to endorse Dlamini-Zuma

"This is my opportunity to show I am respectable. We may have [been] out of line when we were young and reckless, but now I represent the future. It is my opportunity to show that I won't just live off tenders, living a flamboyant life with drinks and slay-queens."

He said he wanted to show those who "believed in me" like Kunene and Mckenzie that he wasn't just a thug.

When asked how he was feeling about his latest court case he said he would rather focus on what drives him, which was proving to those who said he "represented destruction" that he was capable of building something.

fees must fall
Bonginkosi Khanyile in his earlier years, during Fees Must Fall protests.

Khanyile was arrested again in August 2021, charged with incitement to commit public violence and contravention of the Disaster Management Act relating to the looting and violence which occurred in the July riots.

News24 reported that the charges relate to five video clips. 

In one of the clips he said in isiZulu, that those who are burning the country must continue to do so "until Bab' Msholozi" [former president Jacob Zuma] is released.

Despite this, he told the court that no one looted in the name of Zuma, but rather because of poverty.

In September 2021 Khanyile was released from house arrest with bail conditions which include that he cannot use Twitter.

He does, however, have an account on the social media platform, that is allegedly managed by a different entity.

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