In what should to be considered good news in the fight against South Africans who perpetuate criminality, the Durban Regional Court has sentenced Fees Must Fall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile to three years house arrest.
Khanyile must undergo life skills courses for public violence, and is also required to pay a R5000 fine. If he cannot pay the fine he will face three years in jail. However, the judge considered in Khanyile’s favour the fact that he was a first-time offender and father of three children. In my mind this makes Khanyile an irresponsible father and carer as he was fully aware that his violence, if he were to be caught, would result in complications with the law.
The Fees Must Fall protests called for a halt to an increase in high tuition fees which evolved to the demand for free tuition. The protests have been marked with violence against public and university property, against human beings as well as law enforcement. Khanyile, for example, plead guilty to charges of public violence and failing to comply with police orders. He also plead guilty for being in possession of a dangerous weapon, namely a slingshot he used to throw rocks at police. He was arrested and held for six months in 2016 and 2017 due to his criminal activities.
This is positive ruling for justice, although unfortunately a bit lenient for Khanyile. In a country where crime and violence is staggeringly high it is important that the law makes an example out of protest leaders who engage in violence. This is important for our youth, many of whom think that engaging in violent activity against others and their property is acceptable.
May the law be equally punishing for students using violence in protests.