UCT protesters released on bail

Masixole Mlandu, Sibusiso Mpendulo and Zukisa Sokhaya supported by large crowd

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Photo of Wynberg Magistrates\' Court
Crowd outside Wynberg Magistrates’ Court earlier today. Photo: Ashleigh Furlong

Three UCT students who were arrested earlier this week during protest action at the university were released on bail this morning.

The three, Masixole Mlandu, Sibusiso Mpendulo and Zukisa Sokhaya, were supported by a large crowd in Wynberg Magistrates’ Court, who attempted to squeeze into the courtroom, much to the annoyance of police officers who insisted that the courtroom was full.

After a false start, where the wrong man was brought to the stand, Sokhaya and Mlandu appeared before Magistrate Vanessa Miki and then a short while later Mpendulo appeared in a separate courtroom in front of Magistrate Goolam Bawa.

Mlandu faced a charge of contravening a court interdict that prevented him from being on campus. Sokhaya faced two charges of assault and Mpendulo faced charges of intimidation, crimen injuria and assault.

When Mlandu appeared, the state said that he was also accused of telling a staff member to tell other staff that they must join the protest or go home. He was granted bail of R1,000.

In both the bail applications for Sokhaya and Mpendulo, the prosecutors attempted to add the condition that the students not be allowed onto campus. In both cases this was denied.

The state alleges that Sokhaya threatened two people with a stick and a rock. One of these individuals threatened to pepper spray Sokhaya.

Prosecutor Deshnie Naidoo argued that while the state did not oppose bail, they wanted two conditions to be attached, namely for Sokhaya not to interfere with the two witnesses and not to enter campus.

The attorney for the three, Lufuno Musetsho, strongly opposed the second condition, saying that this would mean that the state was saying Sokhaya should essentially “drop out” of university.

“If we deny him access to UCT we are denying him the right to education,” said Mutsetsho.

Magistrate Vanessa Miki said that the court should not decide whether or not Sokhaya should be allowed to be at university. She said that the university itself could obtain an interdict against him if it wished to prevent him being on campus. He was granted bail of R1,000.

In Mpendulo’s case, he is accused of asking the complainant “how many black people did he kill?” and saying that he was “going to burn the campus”.

The state argued that he should be given bail on the condition that he not enter campus, abstain from protest action and not communicate with witnesses. The state also said that UCT was in the process of securing an interdict against Mpendulo.

Musetsho took issue with his client not being allowed on campus or to participate in protest action.

He said that it was “unreasonable” not to allow him to engage in peaceful protests and that this was a constitutional right.

Magistrate Bawa said that in the light of the university applying for an interdict against Mpendulo, he would not set a bail condition barring Mpendulo from campus. He also said that was “not for this court to determine” whether or not to allow him to protest. Mpendulo was granted bail of R500.

When each accused was granted bail, the crowd of supporters in the courtroom shouted “Izwe” (land) in unison. After Mpendulo, the final accused, was granted bail, the supporters left the courtroom in song, despite police officers attempting to stop the singing. After they had left, Magistrate Bawa jokingly said, “At least it’s a nice song”.

All are due back in court on 23 November.

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TOPICS:  Court Tertiary Education

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