A group of students from universities in the Cape Town area has handed over a memorandum of demands to Minister Michael Masutha, who demands amnesty for those who have been charged with criminal charges against #FeesMustFall during the protests.
The protest was mainly in solidarity with Bonginkosi Khanyile, a student activist who was convicted on charges of public violence and who is sentenced in October.
Khanyile was found guilty of public violence after he had directed a catapult to the police during the protests over the costs at Durban University of Technology (DUT), where he studied.
Khanyile was denied the bail and spent five months in Durban's Westville Prison.
READ MORE: Student leader Bonginkosi Khanyile aces is studying in prison
The DUT activist now sleeps outside of the Union's buildings in Pretoria to secure Presidential foreclosure from President Cyril Ramaphosa.
On Wednesday, students in Cape Town were accompanied by Vuyani Pambo and Mcebo Dlamini, who were at the forefront of student protests at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Among them were students who were given amnesty by the University of Cape Town (UCT) because of their role in some of the violent protests on campus – the # Shackville protests in which paintings were faded.
During that protest in 2016, students built demonstrators a corrugated iron stand to demonstrate the reality of many students claiming to have been overlooked by UCT's housing policy.
Throughout the country, the protests – initially supported by the public – were condemned after the violence broke out in a plume of police tear gas and rubber bullets; and in torched cars & # 39; s buildings by the students. The police action, which happened at a time when the then minister of security of the state of David Mahlobo began to play an increasingly prominent role in the government's response to the protest, was suspected of being a state-sanctioned suppression of the protest. .
As the students protested Wednesday, at least four police vehicles were parked next to them, including two large nyala's. The protest was a rare moment of unity as a small group of students from the ANC, the pan-African student movement of Azania (a Pan-Africanist congress formation) and the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command rubbed shoulders outside of Parliament.
However, they were clear that their claim for amnesty was not a recognition of guilt.
"We as students use the word amnesty reluctantly because the word suggests that there was an offense for which pardon is to be granted, and we firmly believe that when we decided to protest it was a just cause and that the consequence was of the provocation of the police, "said Khululwa Mthi, a student activist at UCT.
Across the country, students are confronted with trial and prison times for criminal charges related to # FeesMustFall protests.
"As much as we can celebrate the announcement of the government [that there will be free education], there are some of us who are still going through lawsuits, "said UCT student-protester Masixole Mlandu, who barely avoided imprisonment for his participation in # FeesMustFall protests after he was sentenced to community service." As a generation, not that we celebrate the fruits of our struggle, but leave behind those who have sacrificed. "
Minister of Justice Michael Masutha received the memorandum of student demands, which is addressed to the President of Parliament. It is the office of Masutha that is in charge of dealing with requests for pardon from the president, and the minister said his office is willing to help students and provide assistance to obtain legal representation for those who need it to have.
The students' demands include the establishment of a national truth and reconciliation process to help universities, students and the government understand how violence has been unraveled during the protests. In addition, students want the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to be dissolved and ground is provided for adequate housing for students. Gender-based violence on campus and in the country as a whole must also be addressed, they said, because the government and universities work together to combat such violence.
Khanyile plans to sleep outside the Union buildings until Ramaphosa responds to his request for pardon, but perhaps he waits a long time because Ramaphosa answers questions at the National Assembly on Wednesday.
"We are tired of going to court for so long, especially after the statement that free education is approved by the state, why are people being prosecuted for # FeesMustFall activities if the government recognizes that it is a noble matter?" Mthi.