Student activist will breach bail conditions if released, High Court judge says
Fees Must Fall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile has a "flagrant disregard" for court orders and was likely to breach his bail conditions if he was released.
This was the view of High Court in Pietermaritzburg Judge Nkosinathi Chilli, in a damning judgment handed down on Thursday morning.
Khanyile‚ a 26-year-old Durban University of Technology student‚ is the last Fees Must Fall activist still in jail — and will spend Christmas‚ his birthday on December 28 and New Years Day behind bars following Chilli’s ruling.
The ruling was met with anger from protesters‚ who had to be dispersed by Pietermaritzburg police outside the court building. According to reports from the scene‚ two people were arrested.
Chilli said Khanyile played a pivotal role in violent clashes during protests earlier this year‚ which led to police and journalists being stoned.
Khanyile had previously been charged for involvement in other protests‚ and was out on warning on a trespassing charge and told not to commit similar offences.
Chilli ruled that Khanyile’s involvement in the protests was in breach of those court-issued warnings.
Before the clashes‚ Khanyile said protesters should "moer" the police. These utterances were caught on video by journalists.
"If the appellant [Khanyile] only participated in the demonstration merely by his presence‚ that would have been a different story‚" Chilli said in his judgment.
"Instead‚ he played a very vital role. He was elevated above the crowds by his supporters‚ making utterances which by his own admission triggered violent behaviour among the crowds‚ including hurling stones at police; in blatant disregard of a direct order barring him from participating in an unlawful gathering."
The judge said that this pattern of behaviour posed a problem when it came to considering bail.
"The manner in which [Khanyile] conducted himself begs the question: ‘if [he] breached the warning conditions imposed by the court‚ what would prevent him from breaching the bail conditions?’ The answer to that question in my view would be‚ ‘Nothing’‚" said Chilli.
Khanyile was twice denied bail‚ in September and again in November‚ in the Durban Magistrate’s Court. He appealed to the Pietermaritzburg court to reverse this decision‚ but Thursday’s ruling means he will stay in jail until at least his next appearance on January 19.
Meanwhile‚ his advocate‚ Tembeka Ngcukaitobi‚ said they would be lodging papers for an urgent appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal.
"We may not get him out before Christmas. But the decision and the reasons given are wrong‚" said Ngcukaitobi.
TMG Digital/The Times