Former student activists, members of the clergy and civil society organisations have welcomed the release of Fees Must Fall activist Kanya Cekeshe.
In a joint statement issued hours after Cekeshe was released on parole from Leeuwkop prison on Tuesday, the group said it was their contention that it was unfair for Cekeshe to be incarcerated for the past two years, mainly due to the fact that he received poor legal advice.
"We are part of a number of former student activists, religious leaders and members of civil society, who recently made a public call for greater awareness, compassion and empathy for Cekeshe’s plight.
"We believe that it is correct that Cekeshe has been released from prison. Cekeshe must now be allowed to rebuild his life and make a positive contribution to society.
"We wish to salute all those who have stood by Cekeshe and supported him through difficult times and those who over the past few months have worked to facilitate his release," they said.
They said in the statement that they remained committed to building a just, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa and to the transformation and improvement of the country’s education system.
Among those who supported the statement were:
- Bishop Jo Seoka,
- Wits law professor Firoz Cachalia
- former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela
- former Wits student leader Tiego Moseneke
- veteran journalist Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki
- former Wits student leader Brendan Barry
- former Wits student leader Chris Ngcobo
- former Government Communication and Information System CEO Themba Maseko
- businessman Moss Mashishi
- former Congress of SA Students Soweto chairperson Mogomotsi Mogodri
- Wits alumnus Khaya Ngema
- Wits economist Kenneth Creamer
- political analyst Ebrahim Fakir
- businessman Thulani Khanyile
- Wits alumna Prishani Naidoo
- Makhukhu Mampuru
- Muhammad Cajee
- Ashley Mabasa.
In another statement, former Wits University student leader and Fees Must Fall movement member Shaeera Kalla said: "I'm really ecstatic, but I also want everyone to know that Cekeshe has been through a lot and will need support going forward."
"There's much work to be done for collective and individual healing. I am ready to create those spaces and provide that support in whatever ways I can. I have a lot of respect for Cekeshe having met him on my visits to him in prison.
"He has a strong will and I am just grateful that he is finally out. I thank everyone who supported us, stood alongside us and did the work behind the scenes to ensure that justice is served. Cekeshe should never have spent two years in prison," said Kalla.