Fees Must Fall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile has vowed to defy his house arrest conditions until fellow activist Kanya Cekeshe is free.
Khanyile is currently serving a three-year house arrest sentence, whose conditions include regularly reporting to the Department of Correctional Services, attending life skills courses, doing community service, and requesting for permission every time he needs to go somewhere.
Writing on Facebook on Friday, Khanyile wondered if his “continuation [of] compliance with the state that is perpetuating extreme violence against young people especially Cekeshe [is] not tantamount to selling out.”
‘I am setting myself free’
He added, “As from today I am declaring myself a free man, literally. I am setting myself free. I am no longer under house arrest.
“I am no longer doing any community service. I am no longer signing and reporting at correctional services.
“I shall be under no house arrest until Kanya Cekeshe is free. I will seek no Pardon from the state while one of our own is languishing in prison.”
Khanyile said he will join those “organising from the ground” for Cekeshe’s release and will only resume his house arrest once “Cekeshe is on his way home.”
Plea for compassion
Cekeshe has already served two years of his five-year prison sentence for public violence and malicious damage to property during the Fees Must Fall protests in 2017.
He was recently denied bail during an appeal against his conviction. News24 reported that he was also admitted to hospital due to mental health problems shortly after the appeal hearings.
On Friday, various organisations, former Wits University student leaders and public figures issued a public statement calling for compassion for Cekeshe, who is held at Johannesburg’s Leeuwkop Prison.
They included the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), Corruption Watch, and individuals such as former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Professor Firoz Cachalia.
They wrote, “We call for a deeper understanding of the context in which his actions occurred and the expedition [sic] of legal processes to be undertaken to secure his release so that he can continue with his studies…
“…regain his mental health and may be allowed to take his place in making a positive contribution to the building of a better South Africa. We stand in solidarity with Kanya Cekeshe.”