Tears of joy flowed outside the Hermanus Magistrate's Court on Friday after the court delivered its judgment in the bail application of 11 people, who have been charged with public violence in connection with land-related protests in Zwelihle.
Seven of the accused were released on bail of R300 each and four were released on a warning.
They are Menzi Fokazi, Sive Bophani, Qhawe Bawdeza, Fezile Mzimeli, Mncedisi Ntantala, Deyiti Ntshono, Mthuthuzeli Thembani, Busiswa Mandoyi, Ntombifikile Njumbu, Fezeka Mjuleni and Xoli Mkhwe.
"I am really relieved because I can go back to school," said 20-year-old Mandoyi, who is a business management student.
Mandoyi's grey-bearded father Kholisile has been attending court since the bail hearing started on Tuesday.
He said he was "so happy" about the outcome.
Putting his arm around his daughter, he added that he had taken leave from his job at a fishing club in Hermanus to attend the hearing and was pleased that the first part was over.
Mandoyi had been released on warning on Thursday along with Njumbu, Mjuleni and Mkhwe.
Magistrate Jeremy Maarman found that the evidence relating to their alleged roles was problematic.
After releasing them, he warned them to return to court on Friday for the full bail judgment.
The remaining seven accused were granted bail on Friday and the case against all of them was postponed to May 10.
In his judgment, Maarman said the State had failed to prove that the accused would be a danger to the community, that they would tamper with evidence or threaten witnesses, that they were a flight risk, or that they would commit a crime or cause public violence.
Maarman also took into account the possible sense of shock and outrage that the broader community might feel if they were released.
Maarman referred to a Constitutional Court judgment.
"Everyone who is unarmed has the right to go out and assemble to demonstrate, picket and present petitions to others for any lawful purpose," he quoted.
He said people lose constitutional protection if they do not have any intention to act peacefully.
However, the accused who were applying for bail were not on trial yet, he pointed out.
"There [are] different scenarios to each one of them. However, currently before this court, it is not clear what the intentions of these seven were. This court, however, has to emphasise that this court is not a trial court.
"The fact whether or not these accused associated themselves [with] this protest action, is up to the trial court to consider."
He added that all the accused have family ties and assets in Zwelihle and that their past conduct did not suggest that they would flee.
Two have criminal records already, but they have not been involved in criminal activity since then, he added.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said outside the court that the State had hoped they would not be released, but that they accepted the magistrate's decision.
The 11 accused are part of a larger group of 69 people who were arrested in connection with the violent protests.
Two of the 69 were released on Tuesday, after a quick court appearance, bringing the number of accused down to 67.
The 67 have been divided into three groups – the 11 people who were in court on Friday, a second group of 27 accused who are to appear in court on April 18, and a third group of 29 accused who are to appear in court on April 19.