July unrest: Trial of alleged instigator Bonginkosi Khanyile to begin in August

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Bonginkosi Khanyile at the Durban Magistrate’s Court.
Bonginkosi Khanyile at the Durban Magistrate’s Court.
Photo: Thabiso Goba
  • The trial of Bonginkosi Khanyile, an alleged unrest instigator, is set to start in August.
  • Khanyile is accused of inciting violence during the July unrest, among other charges.
  • He told the media outside court on Tuesday that he felt his chances of winning the case were good.

Three videos that form the basis of the charge of inciting violence against Bonginkosi Khanyile will be challenged by his lawyers during his trial later this year.

He also intends on pleading not guilty, according to his legal team.

The Durban Regional Court on Tuesday heard that the trial is expected to take place between 15 and 26 August.

Khanyile is accused of inciting violence during the July 2021 unrest.

His lawyer told the court they were expected to call just two witnesses to testify and would challenge the video evidence submitted by the State.

Khanyile has not provided the court with any statement prior to the trial.

Previously, the Hawks showed three videos in court as part of the case against him.

The first video, taken on 10 July 2021, was of Khanyile addressing a packed Shoprite store in Durban, where he called on people to support former president Jacob Zuma by requesting his release from jail.

The second video of Khanyile was taken at the height of the unrest. Khanyile was speaking at Warwick Junction taxi rank in Durban, where he allegedly urged people involved in the unrest to continue to do so until Zuma was released.

The third video was taken in Howick, where Khanyile held a solitary protest, again calling for the release of Zuma.

Prosecutor advocate Yuri Gangai said his case would rest on the testimony of 10 witnesses.

He said voice and facial recognition would also be used to link Khanyile to the charge of inciting public violence.

Outside court on Tuesday, Khanyile told journalists he believed the case against him was "thin", and there was a political conspiracy against him. He did not substantiate the claims.

He said when he addressed crowds of people during the unrest, looting had already taken place.

"The case is a fallacy and conspiracy against me. They are trying to blame someone for the unrest."

During the July unrest, businesses were torched and looted in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. More than 300 people were killed.

Khanyile also faces a charge relating to the Disaster Management Act. These typically concern alleged violations of regulations put in place during the Covid-19 lockdown, such as limitations on gatherings and curfew times.

READ | July unrest report lays bare failure of intelligence structures to prevent rioting and looting

When Khanyile did not arrive for his court appearance on 13 December, a warrant was prepared, but it was stayed pending an explanation to court.

Khanyile is well known for his leadership role in the FeesMustFall movement, which challenged university fee funding models, the outsourcing of staff instead of hiring them directly and the presence of colonial-era statues and names at campuses. Activists also called for a syllabus that also recognised African research.

Khanyile was arrested in Johannesburg on 20 August 2021 and was granted bail of R5 000.


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