By Zoe Postman
Asanda Bleki, President of University of Western Cape (UWC) SRC, appeared in Bellville Magistrates’ Court on 27 July for allegedly contravening his bail conditions from #FeesMustFall 2015. The court acquitted him, but on his way home he was arrested by Bellville South police based on a new charge of public violence. Bleki will be held in Goodwood Correctional Services until 7 September when his bail hearing will take place.
Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana from the South African Police Service, confirmed that Bleki appeared in court for “contravening of protection order and public violence”.
Zizipho Royi, Community Outreach Officer of the SRC, explained that these charges were related to the disruption of exams in June 2017. Royi denied that Bleki was involved in the disruption and said he was acquitted based on a statement released by the SRC on 19 June. The statement affirmed that the SRC was against any form of disruptions during exams. It was admitted as evidence to disprove Bleki’s involvement in the disruption, which was accepted by the court, said Royi.
According to UWC Spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo, Bleki’s arrest which came after the court case, was related to a case opened by security guards who were allegedly assaulted by Bleki in June 2017. The police investigated the matter which led to his arrest on 27 July. Tyhalibongo added: “We have also been informed that Bleki violated his bail conditions on a charge of attempted murder. We are informed that the police arrested him at his court appearance on the attempted murder charges”.
Peter Van Heusden, a staff member of UWC who was present at the court case, expressed his suspicion of the arrest. He said Bleki had been politically active on campus throughout the year and the arrest came at the time when Pan Africanist Student’s Movement of Azania hosts its 19th National Congress at UWC. Heusden explained that UWC is one of the few universities that concluded 2016 without reaching an agreement on the #FeesMustFall demands.
UWC SRC released a statement saying, “This is a clear indication that leaving home to attend a court case carries with it the possibility that you may not return”. The SRC is currently raising R6,000 to hire new legal representatives who will try to get an earlier bail hearing for Bleki.
This is a humble request for you to challenge the UWC management on the arrest of Asanda Bleki. If indeed he had been involved in assault in June, why was no action taken then?
In fact, the Pro Events security guards seriously assaulted 2 students in June. The students suffered head wounds. When the students went to the Bellville South police station to lay a charge against the security, the police arrested one of the students, Siyasanga Ngaleka. Asanda negotiated the release of the student. The police put the condition of release that the students should withdraw the charges against Pro Events.
There is a huge battle around insourcing at UWC. The question is why does the UWC management side with one of their outsourced companies (Pro Events) instead of their own SRC President? They know that Asanda was not involved in any assault.
Now that the industry regulator, PSIRA, is investigating Pro Events, after an independent complaint by Workers International, suddenly Asanda gets arrested on trumped up charges. This is outrageous. UWC management must clarify their stance.
During the height of the FeesMustFall movement at Wits last year, there is one particular day I will never forget. I was walking into the then building of my work, the Wits Art Museum, humming a struggle song I cannot quite remember. As I walked in, Mama Sylvia, one of the cleaners of the building came rushing to me saying "bambabile usis wako omncinci".
I went cold, with shaking hands reached for my phone and called Busisiwe Cathrine Seabe immediately screaming, "Uphi, uphi, uphi". Her husky voice replied "Don't panic, but technically, I am in the back of a police van."
I was paralyzed with fear. It was one of the scariest moments for me, which is saying a lot because we had been playing dodge the stun grenades, rubber bullets and police for weeks on end. My stun grenade scar on my knee is still freshly drawn today.
For those of you who are part of the "send these protesting hooligans to jail" brigade, please take some time to think about the penal system you are referring to. Our prisons are overcrowded and at 137% capacity, human rights violations are common place if you look at the work of the Wits Justice Project. Knowing the billions the state has to pay every year for police brutality civil claims, we all know our police are prone to torture and excessive violence. The thought of what could happen to Busisiwe Cathrine Seabe inside a jail cell crippled me. Luckily the movement got her released in a timely fashion, but many were not so lucky. Of the approximately 787 arrests nationally, many young black South Africans remained in our hellish penitentiary walls.
Now, almost a year later, when we can say to some degree that the state sanctioned violence worked, the state won, we have dololo free decolonized education. A lot of students are petrified of the picket line, why arrest Asanda Bleki? I don't know Bleki personally, but he is a young black man in an institution of higher learning, a walking, talking, breathing, feeling, living potential resource to our unequal society.
© 2017 GroundUp.
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