Convicted student Bonginkosi Khanyile's prediction comes true as lectures stop at three KZN varsities

04 February 2019 - 17:36 By YASANTHA NAIDOO
#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile consults his advocate, Danie Combrink, before he was sentenced in Durban last Monday.
#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile consults his advocate, Danie Combrink, before he was sentenced in Durban last Monday.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

A prediction by convicted student activist Bonginkosi Khanyile that the struggle campaign for free education would rise again rang true on Monday.

The #FeesMustFall activist pleaded guilty to charges of public violence, failing to comply with a police instruction and possession of a dangerous weapon.

The honours graduate, who will be completing a master's degree in public management this year, was sentenced to house arrest and ordered to pay a R5,000 fine or serve a three-year prison sentence (suspended for five years) by the Durban Regional Court last Monday.

Speaking after his sentencing last week, Khanyile said the campaign for free education was far from over and predicted that students would continue to take up the cause.

On Monday he tweeted a video of a private security vehicle on fire at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Westville campus, noting that the "KZN shut down continues".

He added that while certain activists may have been silenced, the goal of free education had been planted in the minds of young students.  

He responded to criticism that burning things was counterproductive by saying that he wasn't responsible for the burning and that he was only skilled with a slingshot. 

On Monday, lectures were violently brought to a halt at UKZN, as well as the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), where protesting students clashed with security and police.

UKZN acting vice-chancellor and principal Prof Nana Poku said that in light of the provincial shutdown of all universities, the executive management had taken a decision to suspend the academic programme with immediate effect until further notice.

"We have received the memorandum from the UKZN SRC, which we are actively working through to try to address the issues being raised. The suspension allows us space to engage the student leadership and deal with the issues while ensuring the safety and security of all concerned," said Poku.

Neither MUT nor DUT had announced a suspension of their academic programmes at the time of publishing.

MUT's senior director of marketing and communications, Mbali Mkhize, said they had noted with concern "inciting messages of mass student protests" by individuals who seemed intent on destroying the gains made by the SRC and management in resolving student issues, including fee concessions and allowances.

Metro police spokesperson Parboo Sewpersad said students had earlier blockaded the highway with burning tyres. He said police were on standby to monitor further protest action.