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Lamola to 'urgently assist' Kanya Cekeshe to apply for presidential pardon

This comes after the Johannesburg Magistrates Court on Monday dismissed an application by Cekeshe for leave to appeal against his 2017 conviction for public violence and malicious damage to property.

FILE: Justice Minister Ronald Lamola in Parliament on 16 July 2019. Picture: @DOJCD_ZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola on Monday announced that his department was in the process of assisting Fees Must Fall activist Kanya Cekeshe with a possible application for a presidential pardon or “other legally available avenues” for him to be released from prison.

This after the Johannesburg Magistrates Court dismissed an application by Cekeshe for leave to appeal his 2017 conviction and sentence for public violence and malicious damage to property. The court also dismissed his application for bail pending an application in the High Court in Johannesburg against both his conviction and sentence.

Magistrate Theunis Carstens said the defence’s applications did not hold water and no other court would find differently.

But, taking to Twitter shortly after the judgment, Lamola said the government had noted the dismissal of both the leave to appeal and bail against the only Fees Must Fall activist in custody.

“We note the dismissal of both the leave to appeal and bail for Fees Must Fall activists Kanya Cekeshe by the Johannesburg Magistrate Court. We’re in the process of urgently assisting him with an application for presidential pardon or other legally available avenues,” he tweeted.

The minister’s spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said: “There is a process that we are willing to implement and follow to ensure that people who were convicted during the Fees Must Fall protests, we can assist them to ensure that, where necessary, we expunge their record and facilitate a presidential pardon.”

Cekeshe was sentenced to eight years in jail - with three years suspended - after he was found guilty of setting alight a police vehicle during Fees Must Fall protests.

At the same time, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Student Command (EFFSC) reacted angrily to the court ruling, warning that they would force authorities to release Cekeshe.

EFF members protested outside the Johannesburg Magistrates Court and called for Cekeshe’s release.

EFFSC president Mandla Shikwambana said they would fight for the release of Cekeshe no matter what.

Defence Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said they would petition the High Court to have Cekeshe released on bail and his conviction overturned.

EFF PROTESTS

Members of the EFFSC caused chaos near the Joburg Magistrates Court and prevented motorists from driving through the area. A large contingent of members of police and metro police were deployed in the CBD.

EFFSC members from various universities were seen overturning dust bins. While that was happening, another group marched in the CBD.

Students also left burning objects outside the court building. Eyewitness News learned that they were heading to Braamfontein.

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department was monitoring the situation.

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