#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile sentenced to three years' house arrest

28 January 2019 - 15:39 By Suthentira Govender
#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile consults with his advocate, Danie Combrink, before he was sentenced in Durban on January 28 2019.
#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile consults with his advocate, Danie Combrink, before he was sentenced in Durban on January 28 2019.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile has escaped jail time.

On Monday, Khanyile was sentenced to three years' house arrest and ordered to submit himself to rehabilitation programmes.

Dressed in a Steve Biko t-shirt and a camouflage jacket, Khanyile faced magistrate Siphiwe Hlope as he handed down sentence in the Durban Magistrate's Court.

Khanyile was convicted on charges of public violence‚ failing to comply with a police instruction and possession of a dangerous weapon in August last year.

Hlope also ordered Khanyile to pay a R5,000 fine or serve a three-year prison sentence, suspended for five years.

He was also instructed by the court to do community service every month and refrain from taking intoxicating substances.

Hlope told the court, packed with Khanyile’s supporters and the media, that he was a "proper case for correctional supervision".

"The court is of the view that the accused is a person who should be given the opportunity to take responsibility for his behaviour."

Hlope said that, as a father of three, Khanyile must be given a chance to make proper decisions for the future of his children.

Before sentence was delivered, Col Langa Mhlongo, who heads the cluster command for Durban Central, told the court that 43 cases of public violence, including fees must fall-related cases and service delivery protests, were registered in three to four months in 2016.

 Mhlongo said the fees must fall protests were often accompanied by destruction. He said they were not anticipated by the police and resulted in them having to draw on resources from police stations outside Durban. In just one week, during the height of the protests in 2016, R361,000 was spent on accommodation and overtime, the court heard.

"We were caught unaware at great expense to the state."

Mhlongo described Khanyile as "rude, arrogant and unco-operative".

Mhlongo said he also had reliable information that Khanyile had threatened investigators and prosecutors.

He said he did not regard Khanyile as remorseful, even after he pleaded guilty.

Mhlongo added that while the fees must fall cause may have been genuine, Khanyile himself had led people astray.

Defence advocate Danie Combrink, during cross-examination told Mhlongo that a professional social worker who assessed Khanyile had found him to be genuinely remorseful.

He also suggested to Mhlongo that more of the public violence cases were related to service delivery protests rather than student protests.

In mitigation of sentence, Combrink asked the court to impose correctional supervision on Khanyile.

He said if Khanyile was directed to undergo proper rehabilitation programmes he, as an influential youth leader, could have a positive impact on society.

The court heard that Khanyile had been accepted to study towards his master's degree in public management at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.