Case against FeesMustFall protestors postponed

29 arrested at Parliament last year appeared in Cape Town Magistrates’ Court today

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Photo of #FeesMustFall protest at Parliament on 21 October 2015
#FeesMustFall protest at Parliament last year. 29 people were arrested. Photo: Ashleigh Furlong

The case against 29 protesters who were arrested in or around Parliament on 21 October 2015 was postponed to 30 March this morning.

The postponement was a result of the need to consider representations that have been made for 23 of the accused by their legal representatives. The attorneys for the remaining six are now also being given time to make representations to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The result of the representations will be made known when the accused appear on 30 March.

The charges against the 23 who have already made representations are public violence and contravention of the Gatherings Act. The other six have the additional charge of trespassing as they were arrested in the Parliament precinct.

Three of the accused did not appear in Cape Town Magistrates’ Court this morning, which resulted in two of them being issued with warrants of arrest. Magistrate Selwyn Africa said that the arrest warrant of one of the three, who is currently in Paris, was to be held over until 30 March.

Last year UCT also made representations to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking for charges to be dropped against those arrested at the University campuses on 20 October and in the vicinity of Parliament on 21 October. In the document Registrar Hugh Amoore (now retired) wrote in relation to protesters arrested at the university that bringing charges against the protesters would result in “criminalising their actions” which would not “in any way resolve the issues we face. Further, it would put an unwarranted damper on students’ perceived rights to protest under the constitution.”

He asked for these considerations to also be applied to those arrested around Parliament.

“The University’s submission, therefore, is that all charges against those arrested on Tuesday and Wednesday, 20 & 21 October 2015, should be dropped,” he stated.

Many of the accused wore casual T-shirts to court this morning resulting in Magistrate Africa telling them that “this is not a beach” and that they needed to be dressed appropriately. This resulted in stifled laughs from the gallery.

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