Economic Freedom Fighters members descended on the Constitutional Court yesterday as party member and #FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile won his bid to be granted bail.
Khanyile‚ a Durban University of Technology student‚ was arrested in September during the #FeesMustFall protests and has been in detention ever since.
He failed in numerous bail applications and appeals in the Durban Magistrate’s Court‚ the High Court in Durban and the Supreme Court of Appeal.
This led to his applying to the Constitutional Court to be released on bail.
He faces eight charges including public violence‚ illegal gathering and inciting violence. A date for his trial has yet to be set.
Earlier‚ the court heard that Khanyile had been held in custody for so long because he had to be made an example of.
Khanyile’s counsel, Dali Mpofu SC, was replying to a question posed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
The chief justice asked what factors had been relied on by a magistrate and a judge to explain why Khanyile could not be released on bail.
Mpofu said the only legitimate factor that stood out was that Khanyile allegedly breached a condition of his release on warning on bail in February last year that he should not obstruct police or security personnel in their duties.
“That point alone cannot be sufficient given the context that you painted of clogging prisons‚” Mpofu said.
After an adjournment‚ prosecutor Andy Bester told the court yesterday that the parties were closer to an agreement that could see Khanyile released on bail.
“As it stands‚ the state does not want to incarcerate individuals for the sake of it. If conditions are put into place‚ the accused can be placed on bail‚” Bester said.
The parties then reached a settlement to release Khanyile on bail of R250.
After Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga made the settlement an order of the court‚ people in the courtroom cheered.
EFF leader Julius Malema addressed the assembled crowds.
“We want him in the presence of his children . . . of his mother,” Malema said.
“He does not belong to the criminals, because he is fighting for a just cause.
“When Bonginkosi was arrested‚ we said he would be released. You must never be cry babies‚” Malema said, to loud cheers.
When people joined politics‚ they should know prison would become their friend, he said.
“When you are scared of prison‚ stay [away] from politics . . . The highest price to be paid is death. We will not retreat even in front of death‚ we shall tell the truth.
“The system will not give you roses when you fight it. The system will fight back and you must be determined to fight forward and never retreat.”
Malema accused the ANC of using “apartheid tactics to jail people without trial”.
“When they disagree with you politically and they can’t persuade you politically‚ they will lock you up. That is a crime against humanity,” he said.
“That is against the spirit of our constitution. They [ANC] are known for not respecting the constitution.
“If you want to know how they urinate on top of the constitution‚ see who is occupying the Union Buildings.
“That is a direct urinating on top of the constitution because [President Jacob] Zuma is not supposed to be president of this country if the ANC respected the constitution‚” Malema said.
He disclosed that it had cost the party half-a-million rands to get Khanyile released on bail.
“The question we must ask is: How many Africans are in jail, failed by the judicial system that favours the rich?
“We did not spend less than R500 000 on this one individual, because to get the best lawyers and best team‚ you have to spend a lot of money.”
Khanyile’s mother, Phumzile Khathini, thanked the EFF for supporting her son and for seeing that he was released.