Fees Must Fall activist Kanya Cekeshe turns to High Court to challenge conviction

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Kanya Cekeshe.
Kanya Cekeshe.
Azarrah Karrim, News24

Fees Must Fall student activist Kanya Cekeshe has turned to the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on an urgent basis in his bid to challenge his conviction.

His latest move comes after the Johannesburg Central Magistrate's Court dismissed his application for leave to appeal his conviction and his application for bail, pending the outcome of the application.

Cekeshe, believed to be one of the last Fees Must Fall student activists still in prison, was convicted of public violence and malicious damage to property when he tried to set a police van alight during protests in 2016.

READ | Justice minister aims to get presidential pardon for #FeesMustFall activist Kanya Cekeshe

He received an eight-year sentence and has been held at the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Bryanston, Johannesburg, since 2017.

But he sought leave to appeal his conviction and wanted to be released on bail, pending the outcome.

Cekeshe's defence team, led by advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and Wikus Steyl, argued that the lawyer who represented him in the trial was incompetent. 

They also argued that there were discrepancies between the charges against Cekeshe and what was in his statement.

However, handing down judgment on Monday, Magistrate Theunis Carstens said there was no merit in the arguments.

He said Cekeshe had admitted to the allegations against him and described the arguments submitted as "opportunistic".

R5 000 bail

A notice dated October 15, which Ian Levitt Attorneys filed at the High Court and which News24 has seen, stated: "The applicant asks for the order setting aside the decision and judgment of the magistrate and granting the applicant bail pending the outcome of his petition against both conviction and sentence, in the amount of R5 000."

In an affidavit, which News24 has also seen, Steyl stated that the notice was an appeal against the "wrong decision of Magistrate Carstens". 

He said he also brought the application to secure Cekeshe's release on bail, pending the determination of the application for leave to appeal.

Steyl also stated that he believed the student activist had prospects of success on appeal and that Carstens was "wrong" to arrive at a contrary decision.

Impermissible approach

Steyl also said Carstens relied on evidence given during sentencing proceedings and submitted that this approach was "impermissible".

"Evidence led during sentencing cannot be used to justify the incorrect application of Section 112(2) of the [Criminal Procedure Act]".

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