Three University of Pretoria (UP) students who spent a week at the Kgosi Mampuru II prison were welcomed by their fellow students after being released yesterday, following their participation in the #FeesMustFall protests.
Lethabo Rametsi, Phumla Mgwengwe and Daniel Sehoana were the last three among nine students who were detained for public violence, following six weeks of disruptions and demonstrations for free education at the institution.
The three were released on R1 000 bail each. The trio were welcomed by family members and their fellow students, who were singing outside the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court after a night vigil to discuss a way forward on their demand for free higher education.
Sehoana’s twin sister, Nnoi Sehoana, said she supported the call for free education as their mother was paying for three children at university.
“I am studying nursing at Netcare and my other brother is studying at the University of Johannesburg.
It has been difficult for her and now she also had to pay bail for my twin brother. The fight for free education benefits us all, even the future generation,” she told The Citizen. Student leader Lebo Modise said they had spent most of Sunday begging in the streets for bail money.
He said although academic activities had been moved online following a shutdown of the campuses, poor students were still unable to study. “They’ve closed off campus and only allow certain students inside,” said Modise.
“There are allegations of bouncers being positioned at the gate and black students were told to go home because they look like protesters. The frustration is that poor black students don’t have access to laptops and the internet.”
Shortly before the court appearance, chaos erupted yet again outside the Hatfield campus, where buildings were torched and bricks scattered on the road.
UP spokesperson Anna-Retha Bouwer said police handled the situation and a limited academic programme continued as scheduled.
“Protest action was initiated by a group of protesters in the Hatfield area, outside the campus, resulting in some damage to university buildings in the Prospect Street and Festival Street area,” she said.