Bonginkosi Khanyile, the student who was denied bail for five months after being arrested for using a slingshot at a #FeesMustFall protest, received a rapturous welcome from about 1 000 supporters outside the Durban University of Technology on Thursday.
Khanyile, who was released on R250 bail after taking his case all the way to the Constitutional Court, said his five months in Durban’s Westville Prison had only made him stronger and that the struggle for free education was far from over.
“As this generation of 2017, if we want free education to be a reality, we must be prepared to sacrifice. I have played my role, but by the looks of things, I don’t think it is the last time I am going to prison. I am saying that because of instead of being traumatised by prison, instead of losing the morale in prison, I have come back ten more than I was (sic).”
He said the struggle was beginning to have an effect on the country’s rulers. He pointed to the fact that President Jacob Zuma had for the first time since becoming president dealt with the issue of tertiary education for at least 10 minutes of his State of the Nation Address last month.
He said another marker of the success of the #FeesMustFall protests was the fact that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had also dealt with the issue of tertiary education when he delivered his budget speech last month.
Khanyile, who was wearing a slingshot around his neck, said that he had been informed that students in DUT were being referred to the National Financial Aid Scheme, a situation he describes being “nonsense”.
“If needs be. If you agree with me, we must render DUT ungovernable once again. You just have to give us a mandate. If you think we must fight, then we must fight.”
He urged the management of the Durban University of Technology to lift the suspension of a fellow member of the Economic Freedom Fighters.
He said that 2017 would be “the final round” in the fight against “colonial education”.
He said that he was not bitter towards the magistrate who had denied him bail following his arrest in September 2016. He said he also harboured no ill-will towards the officer who arrested him.
He said that while in prison he had received many letters of support from around the world, especially Swaziland and Brazil. He said supporters from those two countries had highlighted the fact that either their democracy was under threat or that in Swaziland they did not have it.
“They must remove Mswati through a ballot or the must remove him through the barrel of a gun.”
Speaking to media after addressing the 1 000-strong crowd, he said that he had been targeted because the ANC was unhappy that the EFF were
“Because you in KZN, it’s unlike in Cape Town, it’s unlike in Johannesburg. They declared KZN a no-go area of #FeesMustFall. Once I was in the forefront, I was targeted automatically, and then I was just arrested and denied bail thereafter.”
He accused the ANC regime of being worse than the former apartheid regime that had targeted him because he brought the #FeesMustFall protest to KwaZulu-Natal.
He said that during his five months he was in Westville Prison he was kept in isolation.
He said he read “revolutionary” material and continued with his studies while he was in prison.
Khanyile was arrested during running battles with police on September 27, and was charged with incitement to commit public violence, illegal gathering, possession of explosives and dangerous weapons, obstructing traffic and causing a nuisance on public roads.
The 26-year-old was denied bail last year after he violated his bail conditions related to an earlier case when he was arrested during student protests in February last year.
His appeals to the magistrates’ court, the Durban High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal were dismissed, but at the Constitutional Court, the state dropped its opposition Khanyile being denied bail.
The Constitutional Court then released him on bail of R250. He is due to next appear in court on March 17.
– African News Agency