Fees Must Fall leader Mcebo Dlamini rejects plea bargain with state
Student activist Mcebo Dlamini has rejected a plea deal offered by the state‚ saying he would be admitting to a crime he did not commit.
On Tuesday‚ Dlamini appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court. His case was postponed to March 2 for a trial date to be arranged.
Prosecutor Steven Rubin told the court that the state and defence would arrange a trial date after attempts to reach a plea bargain failed.
"No negotiation has been fruitful‚" Rubin told the court.
Speaking outside court‚ Dlamini said he refused to accept the deal.
"The plea bargain says there's an element of guilt in you ... These charges are politically motivated and we understood why they were brought up the first time‚" Dlamini said.
"The government was trying to clamp down on protests and to defuse the fire because it was probably getting out of hand. What we are failing to understand now are the continued prosecutions. If I succumb‚ I will discourage a lot of young activists from taking part in such issues. You are not prosecuting me‚ you are prosecuting a voice that is advocating for change."
Dlamini said it did not make sense for the state to prosecute him and other students in a similar predicament as "free education has already been pronounced and there are no protests held on campuses".
"Why are you prosecuting us when there is peace on campuses?" he said.
Dlamini‚ who on Monday wrote on his Facebook wall that he would be appearing in court on Tuesday for the 30th time‚ said the postponements were "strenuous" and costly.
He has vowed to assemble the best legal team for his trial as he believes the state has no case against him.
"When I come back here‚ I will be pulling a serious group of advocates because we want to defeat this thing once and for all."
Dlamini was arrested in October 2016‚ and was released on R2‚000 bail in November by the High Court in Palm Ridge.
He is facing charges of violating a court order‚ public violence‚ assault‚ theft‚ damage to property and being in possession of a dangerous weapon related to the 2016 Fees Must Fall protests at Wits University.