Despite being granted bail in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, a group of 16 University of Pretoria (UP) students will have to spend another night behind bars as they could not pay the R1,000 bail each before the court offices closed, EFF Student Command spokesperson at UP Lungile Al-Hassan Sonwabo said.
The students were arrested at around 1am on Monday, for contravening a court order acquired by their university, and for breaching provisions of the Regulations of Gatherings Act.
They were detained when they gathered at campus for a “night vigil”, mourning the death of University of Johannesburg student Kevin Baloyi, who was allegedly shot and killed by a security guard on Saturday.
The court ordered on Tuesday that the students be released on R1,000 bail and their matter would return to court in January.
Soon after the court’s decision was passed, Sonwabo told journalists at court that the students did not have the funds to pay bail.
“These students do not have money to pay. We are currently engaged in the current protests, #FeesMustFall, because we can’t even afford fees. We cannot afford the exorbitant fees being charged by universities and we certainly cannot afford the exorbitant amounts being charged by the court,” said Sonwabo.
“Our counsel asked that the amount be reduced to R500 per student but the magistrate was adamant that they have to pay a R1,000 each. We are trying to scramble those amounts. We have to get R16,000 now.”
Later on Tuesday, Sonwabo told African News Agency (ANA) that the national Economic Freedom Fighters had provided the R16,000 for the 16 students’ bail, but it was a bit late.
“It is unfortunate because we got the money after 4pm. When we arrived at the court offices at 4:30pm to pay for our colleagues, it was too late. The plan is that tomorrow [Wednesday] we will be at the court when it opens. The money is available and they will be released,” said Sonwabo.
Economic Freedom Fighters Member of Parliament and national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi was in court on Tuesday, as the 16 appeared.
“Putting the students in prison is only going to make them fearless activists. That is how you make a [Nelson] Mandela, a [Robert] Sobukwe or a Chris Hani. These students belong outside of prison, in society where they are going to continue to challenge us ideologically about the free education, not just any education, but free decolonised education. We should be responding to them through dialogue, not petrol bombs, prison and death,” said Ndlozi.
“The government has taken a decision that the way to arrest the #FeesMustFall movement is to keep all its key activists behind bars until the end of the year. That makes them [government officials] very bad students of history. They should know that it is precisely the harassment by police, putting these students behind bars that is only going to make them fearless activists.”
Several UP students in EFF regalia were also in the packed courtroom when the 16 young men and women appeared.
African News Agency