By Gaby Ndongo
#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile has been trekking for 11 days with a group of about 40 people, starting at Isandlwana, KwaZulu-Natal, heading to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
They aim to hand over a list of grievances, compiled in their journey, to the President, Cyril Ramaphosa at Union Buildings. Early on Thursday, eNCA reported that the group were gathering grievances for the list at Standerton, which is situated in Mpumalanga.
In early afternoon today, the group posted on Facebook that, “they are now leaving Mpumalanga (going) towards Gauteng (and the) next stop is Heidelberg”.
The march was encouraged by Khanya Cekeshe spending his second festive season in prison. Based on a City Press report, Cekeshe serves a five-year sentence at Leeuwkop prison for burning a police van in Braamfontein during the 2016 Fees Must Fall protests.
The FootPrint Media Academy student, who was convicted last year December at the Johannesburg Regional Court, faced charges of arson, public violence and malicious damage to state property.
Of the eight years sentence, three years were suspended, but his leave to appeal the sentence was refuted in February this year. Cekeshe’s conviction preceded a video footage in which he is seen throwing an item into the van before it burning.
The Historic Walk group at first constituted of 32 people. It decreased to 30 as two members fell sick and then gained more members during the course of the trip.
Khanyile told eNCA that they had written to the President, informing him of their march but no reply as so far been received.
According to the media organisation, some of the grievances comprise of the rising unemployment and poverty level. The 2018 third quarter (Q3) unemployment rate, released by Stats SA, shows that 27,5% of people in South Africa are unemployed.
The percentage converts to 6.2 million persons not having employment during the three months ending in September. This is an increase from the 6.1 million people in the second quarter (Q2) of 2018.
Of that same percentage, “approximately 3,2 million (31,1%) out of 10,3 million young people aged 15-24 years were not in employment, education or training (NEET). The overall NEET rate increased by 0,8 of a percentage point in Q3: 2018 compared to Q3:2017,” according to Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey Q3: 2018.
When taking into account the expanded definition of unemployment including people who have stopped seeking for employment, the figure increased to 37.3% (9,8 million) in Q3 from 37.2% (9,6 million) in Q2.
A step back
#FeesMustFall (student) activist and former Wits University SRC president Mcebo Dlamini in August walked from Wits in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, to the Union Buildings to hand a letter of request to the President for #FeesMustFall activists to be granted amnesty and released from prison.
During the course of this year, several student organisations, such as South African Union of Students (SAUS), have called upon government and tertiary institutions to withdraw charges against these activist and grant those who were expelled and barred the opportunity of attending lectures on campuses.
Furthermore, student activists and their constituencies have argued that the former president Jacob Zuma’s declaration of fee-free higher education at the December 2017 ANC conference served as an affirmation of the #FeesMustFall campaign. Therefore, those who participated in its protests should not be penalised.
The student publication, Wits Vuvuzela, in March reported that Mcebo appeared in court on Friday, 2nd March 2018 to have his trial postponed for Monday, 30th July 2018. The latest adjournment, which occurred on Friday, 19th October at Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, booked his trial for Tuesday, 9th April 2019.
Arrested in October 2016, he faces seven charges: assault of a police officer, theft, malicious damage to property, public violence, intimidation and two counts of contempt of a court order.
On the other hand, Khanyile’s trial was adjourned to Monday, 28th January 2019. His charges include “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,” stated in a News24 report. TOJ
Reporting by Gaby Ndongo in Johannesburg.
Feature image: Bonginkosi Khanyile graduating.
Photo obtained from Bonginkosi Khanyile official Twitter account.