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Thuli Madonsela on Kanya Cekeshe’s sentence: 'It was too harsh and there was no ubuntu'

05 December 2019 - 10:20 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
Image: Esa Alexander

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela is the latest person to weigh in on the sentencing of Fees Must Fall student activist Kanya Cekeshe, whose application to have his conviction and sentence reviewed is being petitioned in the high court.

Cekeshe was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in December 2017. He was arrested in 2016 and pleaded guilty to setting alight a police van during Fees Must Fall protests.

Last month he was sent back to prison after being hospitalised, allegedly because he had not received the medical treatment he needed in prison.

Speaking to 702, Madonsela said “the sentence is too harsh. There is no ubuntu in how this young person has been treated.

“The case that Kanya Cekeshe was not a Wits student shouldn’t matter. The Fees Must Fall movement was a student movement. It was not specific to a particular university.

“What I would have wanted the court to do is to adopt the approach in another case. A murder case for example.”

On the police who shot at students during the protest, Madonsela said they were not behind bars “serving eight years or any sentence at all”, yet they shot at students “unprovoked”. 

“What we are asking for is fairness, law and justice,” she added.

“What has been applied is law, but not justice.”

Cekeshe's bid to appeal his conviction for public violence and malicious damage to property, and be released on bail pending appeal, was dismissed in the Johannesburg magistrate's court in October.

TimesLIVE reported that, in June, he petitioned the high court in Johannesburg to appeal his conviction and sentence.

He argued that he did not get a fair trial because his previous advocate had not represented him well.