Fees Must Fall activist ‘finalising’ student registration after raising funds on social media

Bonginkosi Khanyile turned to Twitter for donations from 'ordinary citizens'

06 March 2021 - 08:45
#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile said he had hoped to score a bursary for his studies but his applications were rejected because of his criminal record. File photo.
#FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile said he had hoped to score a bursary for his studies but his applications were rejected because of his criminal record. File photo.
Image: Khaya Ngwenya

Less than 24 hours after turning to social media to ask for donations to pay for his studies, #FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile told TimesLIVE he is finalising his registration to study towards an LLB degree.

Khanyile spent six months in jail in 2017 after being arrested at the height of student protests in the previous year.

In 2019, he was sentenced to three years’ house arrest after he was convicted on charges of public violence, failing to comply with police instruction and possession of a dangerous weapon in 2018.

He told TimesLIVE he had hoped to score a bursary but his applications were rejected because of his criminal record.

“The response has been poor in terms of bursaries. I had made it a point that I am honest in all my applications because I don’t want to get bursaries through a back door,” he said.

The wide reach of social media, compounded by his 17,300 Twitter followers, proved powerful on Thursday.  

Responses were not all positive, however, as some accused Khanyile of “individualising” the Fees Must Fall struggle and portraying himself as a hero to solicit donations.

Khanyile said he was unfazed by his critics.

“Imagine if I posted and no-one said anything. The critics helped my cause and the post reached the people who were well-meaning and who understand my plight.”

Refusing to be a statistic

In 2018 Khanyile graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Technology in Public Management at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and earned an honours degree in social sciences from the University of KwaZulu-Natal last year.

He said his poor background motivates him and he doesn’t want to fall into the trap of alcoholism or drug abuse and be labelled as a “fallen” activist.

“I take education seriously because I know where I come from. My best friend is a drug addict. Education is very close to my heart. Even now, when they closed all corners and ensured they cannot employ me, they want to push me back to the township to drown my sorrows in a beer hall.

“I’m refusing. I went back on Twitter, spoke to my people and they helped me. Later on today I will confirm my registration and I’m going to pass.”

No politicians funded his cause 

Khanyile has neither declared himself a member of the ANC nor the EFF, but he is a proud supporter of former president Jacob Zuma. EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi attended his DUT graduation in 2018.

However, neither of these prominent politicians nor their parties contributed to his cause, as some had asked on social media. He said the contributions were from “ordinary citizens”.

“No. All donations were from ordinary citizens - very ordinary,” he said.


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