Students ask Ramaphosa for amnesty

“We are fighting for free education, how are we expected to pay legal fees?”

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Photo of students marching
Students marched in Cape Town today to ask President Cyril Ramaphosa to grant amnesty to students who had been charged during the #FeesMustFall protests. Photo: Phathiswa Shushwana

About 200 people including students, activists and workers marched to Parliament on Wednesday to hand over a memorandum addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa. The students are calling on the president to grant amnesty to students who were charged during the #FeesMustFall protests.

Last week student activist and former Wits University SRC president Mcebo Dlamini walked to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to deliver a letter to Ramaphosa.

Thulani Mhambi, a student at the College of Cape Town’s Gugulethu campus, chairperson of the SRC and chairperson of the EFF Student Command, said students wanted “all the students who were arrested while fighting for what is rightfully theirs” to be pardoned.

“We ask for the release of all those students who are still in prison, that all those who got suspended and expelled be brought back to their institutions, and that all charges against all those students are dropped.”

Student activist Masixole Mlandu told GroundUp that about 563 students across the country had been charged during the #FeesMustFall protests. “This march today is to raise awareness about the plight of students who are going to jail and to ask for presidential pardon and amnesty. The president must use his power to rescue students from unnecessary and expensive legal processes. We are fighting for free education, how are we expected to pay legal fees?”

“If we agree that free education is a legitimate call, we can agree that the actions that students took were politically motivated, and not criminally motivated,” he said.

He said the marchers also wanted the universities to reinstate workers who had participated in the protests and been suspended or fired. “We call on those institutions to reinstate these workers and that all charges against those who were charged are dropped.”

The students sang songs outside Parliament. No-one came out to receive their memorandum.

UPDATE at 22:30 on 22 August: GroundUp has been informed that eventually the Minister of Justice came to receive the memorandum. We did not witness this.

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Dear Editor

After committing arson and wilful damage amounting to over R800 million by vandalising students. So far nobody has been held responsible, I as a taxpayer demand, before anything else, retribution from the instigators of this outrage.

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