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Charges withdrawn against #FeesMustFall protesters in CT

29 demonstrators appeared in the CT Magistrates Court this morning on various charges.

#FeesMustFall protesters after the state announced it was withdrawing charges against them in connection with student protests outside Parliament. 30 March 2016. Picture: Monique Mortlock/EWN.
Fees must fall,student protests,Fees shortfall,Cape Town Magistrates Court
Local

CAPE TOWN – The State has withdrawn all charges against a group of protesters who were involved in anti-university fees demonstrations in Cape Town last year.

Twenty-nine demonstrators, most of them students, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrates Court this morning on various charges, including public violence. 

They were arrested during protests outside Parliament late last year.

Some of the accused sighed audibly when state prosecutor Nielan Chetty told the court they’d be withdrawing the charges against them. 

Trespassing of a National Key Point were among the charges they faced.

The group was arrested in October after clashing with police outside Parliament.

Among those in the dock were African National Congress (ANC) stalwart Frank Chikane's son, Kgotso, and student activist leader Chumani Maxwele.

Cape Town Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was present in court and hugged several of the protesters after proceedings.

‘PROSECUTION NOT IN THE PUBLIC’S INTEREST’

The Western Cape director of Public Prosecutions says prosecuting Fees Must Fall demonstrators today would not have been in the public interest.

In a statement, Western Cape director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Rodney de Kock says it was found the protest held outside the parliamentary precinct last year was peaceful.

De Kock adds the demonstrators did not cause damage to property and that they were protesting against the high cost of higher education.

The demonstrators appeared visibly relieved in the Cape Town Magistrates Court today after learning the charges against them have been dropped.

RELIEF AS CHARGES ARE DROPPED

At the same time, ANC veteran Frank Chikane says he’s relieved the charges against his son and other protesters involved in the Fees Must Fall demonstrations have been dropped.

Chikane has supported his son’s involvement in the movement since it started.

“I’m hoping that we can make a difference between legitimate protests in a democracy and what the law would consider as illegitimate. This particular group was involved in a classical and normal protests.”

Meanwhile Chikane's son, Kgotsi, says while he's relieved the case is over, the protesters' struggle continues.

“[We are] relieved but there is still a lot more work to be done. A lot of people think because things have quietened down, that nothing is happening but fair education is still not here.” 

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)

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