News24 Wire
Wire Service
3 minute read
24 Dec 2019
6:30 pm

#FeesMustFall activists welcome Cekeshe’s release, say he ‘should never have spent two years in prison’

News24 Wire

Shaeera Kalla says: 'I'm really ecstatic, but I also want everyone to know that Cekeshe has been through a lot and will need support going forward.'

Kanya Cekeshe appears in court, Johannesburg, 14 October 2019. Picture: Gallo Images

Fees Must Fall activist Kanya Cekeshe has been ordered to report to a police station twice a month after his release from prison and he is not allowed to leave Gauteng without informing authorities.

His lawyer, Wikus Steyl of Ian Levitt attorneys, told News24 that these were the conditions of Cekeshe’s release.

Steyl said Cekeshe was doing well at home and was happy to be around his family.

“He is doing well and happy that he will spend Christmas with them after being away from them for years. He has missed two Christmas days while in custody and this time he is going to spend time with his loved ones,” Steyl said.

He said the family has asked for privacy.

Cekeshe was convicted of public violence and malicious damage to property when he tried to set alight a police van during protests in 2016.

He received an eight-year sentence and was held at Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Bryanston, Johannesburg from 2017.

He was released at around 5am on Tuesday.

Cekeshe was believed to have been the last Fees Must Fall activist in prison.

Former student activists, members of the clergy and civil society organisations have welcomed his release.

In a joint statement issued hours after Cekeshe was released on parole from Leeuwkop prison, the group said it was their contention that it was unfair for Cekeshe to be incarcerated for the past two years, mainly due to the fact that he received poor legal advice.

“We are part of a number of former student activists, religious leaders and members of civil society, who recently made a public call for greater awareness, compassion and empathy for Cekeshe’s plight.

“We believe that it is correct that Cekeshe has been released from prison. Cekeshe must now be allowed to rebuild his life and make a positive contribution to society.

“We wish to salute all those who have stood by Cekeshe and supported him through difficult times and those who over the past few months have worked to facilitate his release,” they said.

They said in the statement that they remained committed to building a just, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa and to the transformation and improvement of the country’s education system.

Among those who supported the statement were: Bishop Jo Seoka, Wits law professor Firoz Cachaliaf, former public protector Thuli Madonsela, former Wits student leader Tiego Moseneke, veteran journalist Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, former Wits student leader Brendan Barry, former Crime Intelligence head Chris Ngcobo, former Government Communication and Information System CEO Themba Maseko, businessman Moss Mashishi, former Congress of SA Students Soweto chairperson Mogomotsi Mogodri, Wits alumnus Khaya Ngema, Wits professor Kenneth Creamer, political analyst Ebrahim Fakir, businessman Thulani Khanyile, Wits alumna Prishani Naidoo, Makhukhu Mampuru, Muhammad Cajee, and Ashley Mabasa.

In another statement, former Wits University student leader and Fees Must Fall movement member Shaeera Kalla said: “I’m really ecstatic, but I also want everyone to know that Cekeshe has been through a lot and will need support going forward.

“There’s much work to be done for collective and individual healing. I am ready to create those spaces and provide that support in whatever ways I can. I have a lot of respect for Cekeshe having met him on my visits to him in prison.

“He has a strong will and I am just grateful that he is finally out. I thank everyone who supported us, stood alongside us and did the work behind the scenes to ensure that justice is served. Cekeshe should never have spent two years in prison,” said Kalla.

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