More than 30 students appeared in various courts in KwaZulu-Natal facing charges of public violence and interfering with police duties. The students were parts of violent protests for free education.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal appeared in courts on various charges including violence related to the on-going violent protests for free education.
Students from the Durban Westville Campus briefly appeared in Pinetown Magistrate’s Court while the Pietermaritzburg students are still trying to secure their bail.
A group of students protested outside the Pietermatzburg Magistrates Court ahead of the appearance of 11 University of KwaZulu-Natal students arrested for public violence two weeks ago.
They were calling for the release of their peers. The arrested students are facing various charges including public violence and violation of a court order.
The students are accused of throwing stones at police and interfering with police work during their protests for free education.
The state is opposing bail. During the previous appearance the state said it had a video footage showing the 11 students behaving in a violent manner.
The magistrate had requested an opportunity to view the video before making a decision on bail.
Meanwhile, in a twist of events Advocate Mazwi Dlamini who had represented all the students withdrew from the case and four new attorneys have taken over.
They have requested to submit additional information to persuade the court to release the students.
They claim the state has not presented any evidence that the release of the accused would disturb the academic programme at the campus.
The court was packed with students in support of those arrested. The bail hearing lasted more than three hours, with the defence pulling out all the stops to persuade the court to release them on bail.
It also asked the court not to consider video footage of the fees-must-fall protests at this stage. Meanwhile, the state maintains the students acted in a criminal manner.
Prosecutor Patti David says the court should also consider the thousands of other students who want to write their examinations without intimidation.
The students will know their fate on Thursday. They have already spent 19 days behind bars.
Meanwhile the Durban Magistrate’s Court will hand down a decision on Friday on granting bail to a 26 old Durban University of Technology student who was arrested during recent protests.
Bonginkosi Khanyile is facing charges that include the possession of explosives, public violence and assaulting police.
In a plea for bail, Khanyile’s lawyer Sboniso Mkhize said he was a final year student who averaged 80 % for his modules and had to prepare for his examinations.
He is studying through a fully state-funded bursary. But prosecutor Roshiela Benimahdho said if Khanyile was released, he would endanger the property of the university, the community and intimidates students.
Last week, the court was shown a video in which Khanyile allegedly led the recent student protests.
In 2010, he was arrested for theft and in 2011 he was arrested during an illegal gathering at Mangosuthu University of Technology.
In 2013 he was suspended from that institution. In February this year, he was also arrested at DUT during an illegal gathering, and was released on warning under conditions.
In the Pinetown magistrate’s court, lawyers representing 24 students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus have threatened to discontinue their services after it emerged that some of the students had not yet paid them.
It’s understood only 14 of the 24 have been able to pay their legal fees. The 24 students including SRC president Senzo Ngidi appeared briefly in the Pinetown Regional Court.
The students who are out on one-thousand rand bail each, face charges of public violence, contravening a court order and interfering with police work.
Some students are also linked to the burning of six cars and the Senate House at the Westville campus.
Although their case has been postponed to the 25th of this month, some of them say it will be difficult to be present in court as they will be writing exams on that day.