Johannesburg - After more than six weeks of refusing to go to class, it seems spending time in jail has changed Wits leader Mcebo Dlamini, as he now wants to write exams.
During his first appearance in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday, he said through his lawyer Mongezi Ntanga that he wanted to be released on bail because he had an exam on Tuesday.
Dlamini was arrested in the early hours of Sunday. He has been charged with public violence, theft, malicious damage to property, possession of a dangerous weapon and assault.
Instead of proceeding with the bail application yesterday, magistrate Pieter du Plessis granted the State’s request for a postponement to allow them to verify certain particulars.
He said Dlamini could formally apply for bail on Tuesday and that an agreement could be reached with the university for the exam to be written at a later stage.
Since violent student protests erupted, Dlamini has been calling for a total shutdown of universities.
Asked whether Dlamini has had a change of heart over academic activities opening or just wants to be released from prison, fellow #FeesMustFall leader Vuyani Pambo said: “You can put two and two together. The truth is that we are forging forward and we are not going back.
“Even if there is three of us, we will continue. The cause that we are fighting is a noble one. The government does not have a counter-argument to it.”
Du Plessis postponed the case to Tuesday so the State can verify Dlamini's address and age. Dlamini is said to have told the police he was born in 1986, but the State said it had information that he was in fact born in 1983.
A large group of students had arrived at the court in support of Dlamini. They gathered in the corridors as a large police contingent prevented them from entering the packed courtroom.
Earlier, students and police clashed in St Andrews Road in Parktown. Students blocked traffic and prevented motorists from driving to Rosebank. At the Braamfontein campus, things were calm and lecturers were continuing.
Wits said all university activities had proceeded without any reports of disruption and that they would continue on Tuesday.
Wits said it had decided to open learning venues and computer labs until 10pm after receiving requests from many students. The university last week imposed stricter access controls for visitors on its campus premises and put in place a temporary curfew at its residences.
"Students will have to be in these venues before 10pm, and on completion of their use of the facilities, will be escorted back to their residences by Campus Control, who will be stationed at the doors."