Jailed FMF activist argues ‘unfair trial’ after magistrate calls black lawyers ‘you people’

Jailed FMF activist argues ‘unfair trial’ after magistrate calls black lawyers ‘you people’

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Cekeshe believes his lawyer’s level of experience and utterances made by the magistrate presiding over his case negatively affected the outcome of his case.

The only Fees Must Fall activist that is still behind bars has petitioned the high court to appeal his conviction on the grounds that his lawyer was unprepared and inexperienced and alleged that the magistrate who presided over his case had misdirected himself.

According to a report published by the Mail & Guardian, Kanya Cekeshe, who has been in Leeuwkop prison since 2017, filed a petition in the Johannesburg High Court last week.

In it, he alleges that his lawyer was “wholly unprepared and inexperienced” and claims this, among other reasons, led to him getting an unfair trial.

Following the height of the Fees Must Fall protests, Cekeshe was sentenced to five years in prison for public violence and malicious damage to property.

This after he set a police vehicle on fire during one of the protests in 2016 – a charge he later pled guilty to.

In his application, Cekeshe recalled how he was handed paraffin by a fellow protestor and proceeded to douse the SAPS vehicle in it before setting it alight with his own matches.

He reiterates that even though the vehicle was damaged, no one was hurt as a result of his actions.

He also asserts that he was incorrectly advised to plead guilty even though the burden of proof regarding his charges was on the state.

Cekeshe accused his counsel of continuously interrupting the magistrate, going on incoherent rambling rants throughout the trial and repeatedly showing up late.

“The cumulative effect of counsel’s errors and the bad advice presented to me is that my defence was improper, ineffective and incompetent, thereby rendering my trial unfair,” wrote Cekeshe in his petition.

He went on to highlight the magistrate’s conduct as part of the reasons he received an unfair trial, stating that the mentality demonstrated by the way in which the magistrate referred to counsel affected his ruling.

“I stress that I take great umbrage at the magistrate in the court… referring to the black prosecutor and my black advocate as ‘you people’.”

The NPA’s Phindi Louw Mjonondwane was unavailable for comment.

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