Cape Town – The state has withdrawn charges against 12 activists who were students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology when they were arrested in 2016.
The group made their final appearance at the Bellville Magistrate Court on Tuesday.
The 12 who were divided into two groups, with one consisting of three accused and the other one with nine, were all charged with committing public violence during the tumultuous #FeesMustFall campaign in 2016.
After numerous court appearances and representations to the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), the charges against the the group were withdrawn and diverted to community service.
The group has been ordered to complete 50 hours of community service within 6 months after they were recommended for diversion by the court’s social worker following an assessment process. They will now have to send timeous updates to the probation officer as proof of compliance with the order.
Magistrate EK Patterson warned the group to be more careful in future and know that their actions carry consequences.
“I hope this is the hardest lesson you have learnt, you can protest, but be careful not to be irresponsible about your actions”, said the Magistrate.
One of the lawyers representing the accused Tembinkosi Maloyi said that he was delighted that his clients had their charges withdrawn.
“I am happy by the decision of the court, it’s been long overdue. We have struggled about this matter with the NDPP for quite some time and I am relieved that justice has been done.”
Activist Zukisani Richman Kona expressed his joy at the withdrawal of charges against him and his comrades.
“When we were protesting we were together but very few of us faced the consequences of charges and arrest. My life was greatly inconvenienced as I got suspended from university. I have been traveling between Cape Town and the Eastern Cape for this case as I no longer reside this side. I look forward to going back home for good to continue with wool farming,” said activist who is now self employed.
The CPUT case was, until today, one of the few remaining #FeesMustFall cases in the Western Cape as most activists have had their charges diverted to community service, UCT activist Masixole Mlandu is expected to report back to the Wynberg Magistrate Court on 7 December where the matter will likely be finalized.