South Africa: Activists Make Marathon March to the Union Buildings

Students march during a #FeesMustFall protest (file photo).
26 December 2018

A group of about 40 people led by #FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile is marching from Isandlwana in KwaZulu-Natal to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to hand over a list of grievances they had gathered over the course of their journey.

Khanyile, in an interview with eNCA on Wednesday, said the group was currently in Standerton, Mpumalanga.

He told the news station that the idea for the march was borne out of student Khanya Cekeshe, spending a second Christmas behind bars.

"The contribution we can make, we had to do it. [We decided] Let's organise a protest to the Union Buildings where we are walking peacefully collecting grievances. Hopefully the conscience of the sitting president is going to speak to him," Khanyile said.

According to City Press, Cekeshe, a FootPrint Media Academy student, is serving a five-year jail term in Leeuwkop prison for burning a police van in Braamfontein at the height of the #FeesMustFall protests in 2016.

Cekeshe was successfully convicted in the Johannesburg Regional Court in December last year after video footage emerged showing him throwing something inside the police van before it caught fire.

He faced charges of arson, public violence and malicious damage to state property. He was sentenced to eight years in prison of which three years were suspended.

In February, Cekeshe was denied leave to appeal his sentence.

Khanyile told eNCA that when the march began the group was made up of 32 people. Two people however, dropped out after getting sick.

He added that other groups of people had since joined, swelling its ranks to nearly 40 people, as it made its way toward Pretoria.

Some of the grievances that the group have received along the way are about issues regarding unemployment and poverty.

The activist told the news station that they had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to say that they were coming to him.

"If I was the president, I was going to meet these young men halfway," he said.

Khanyile added that they had not heard anything from the president but hoped that by the time they reached the Union Buildings, Ramaphosa would be there to receive them.

Khanyile's conviction

The activist, himself, could find himself back in jail in 2019.

According to News24, he is expected to be sentenced in January after the Durban University of Technology student was convicted on charges of public violence' failing to comply with a police instruction and possession of a dangerous weapon, relating to a wave of violent protests in 2016 linked to the Fees Must Fall campaign.

Khanyile made certain admissions - that he had disturbed the public peace' used a slingshot to stone police and ignored their pleas to disperse - which led to him being convicted by Durban Regional Court Magistrate Siphiwe Hlophe.

The magistrate found that, on September 27, 2016, Khanyile committed the crime of public violence and intentionally struck the police with stones using a slingshot.

He further found that, on February 4 that year, Khanyile had participated in a public gathering at DUT and had failed to comply with a police instruction to disperse.

The magistrate ruled that the slingshot was a dangerous weapon, capable of hurting someone.

Khanyile was acquitted of nine other related charges.

The trial took two years to get underway after several postponements. He remains out on bail.

In August, he had planned a sleep out at the Union Buildings until he received a presidential pardon. His plans were however scuppered after he was locked out.

Source: News24

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