Kanya Cekeshe: Presidential pardon put on hold pending appeal process

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Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola. (Jan Gerber, News24)
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola has announced that the presidential pardon application of Fees Must Fall activist Kanya Cekeshe has been put on hold.

Briefing the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on the department's annual report on Wednesday, Lamola said he had been advised that they would have to wait for Cekeshe's appeal process to finish.

"I have since been advised that he has applied for leave to appeal. This effectively means that the application for a pardon cannot be entertained alongside the judicial process," Lamola said.

Earlier this week, Cekeshe was denied leave to appeal his conviction in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court as well as an application for bail, pending the outcome of the process. 

A few hours later, Lamola tweeted that the department would urgently assist Cekeshe with a presidential pardon.

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

"We note the dismissal of both the leave to appeal and bail for Fees Must Fall activist [Kanya] Cekeshe by the Johannesburg Magistrate Court.

"We're in the process of urgently assisting him with an application for presidential pardon or other legally available avenues," Lamola said in the tweet.

On whether Lamola should have consulted more widely before announcing that they would assist Cekeshe, spokesperson for the department, Chrispin Phiri, told News24 that Lamola was just the messenger.

"The minister was simply communicating what was communicated previously," Phiri said.

In his address in Parliament on Wednesday, Lamola explained: "In my previous appearance before Parliament, I was asked what type of assistance is available to Fees Must Fall activists [who] have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

"In particular, I was asked whether the department could assist with presidential pardons concerning this matter. I made it clear then that there is no blanket amnesty process. All of them will have to apply for assistance. Upon application, the department will duly assist," Lamola said.

He added: "To inform our citizens of this process is not to undo the work of the prosecutor with a stroke of a pen, on the contrary. A pardon in our days is not a private act of grace from an individual happening to possess power. It is a part of the constitutional scheme."

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