Johannesburg - Eminent individuals including the former Public Protector are set to meet with University of Witwatersrand (Wits) students on Wednesday afternoon, in a bid to strike a peace accord at the troubled institution.
Advocate Thuli Madonsela, founding general secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Jay Naidoo, and Father Graham Pugin of the Holy Trinity Church, would hold a mass meeting to launch dialogue for unity and coalition building to fund and save all public universities in South Africa.
Pugin was shot in the face by police with a rubber bullet two weeks ago after he gave refugee to protesting students at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
This comes after former Wits Student Representative Council president and #FeesMustFall leader, Mcebo Dlamini, was denied bail at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.
Magistrate Albertus Roux said releasing Dlamini on bail would be not be in the best interest of justice because the evidence before the court proves that the accused would not be able to maintain peaceful protests.
Roux also expressed fears that if Dlamini was released on bail, he might flee to his native Swaziland.
The 30-year-old, who was arrested at his Wits residence in the early hours on Sunday, faces charges of public violence, theft, malicious damage to property and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Roux reviewed both arguments from Dlamini’s legal representative and the State. He said since there was footage showing Dlamini assaulting a police officer and a picture of him holding a stick and stones, these facts could not be overlooked.
Dlamini will remain in custody until his next court appearance on November 15.
After the bail decision was handed down, dissatisfied Wits students left the court singing struggle songs and headed for the main campus in Braamfontein.Speaking outside the Great Hall at the Wits main campus after students held a mass meeting, another #FeesMustFall leader Vuyani Pambo said they would not be shaken by “police intimidation” and that their leader, Dlamini, “will be strong”.
Pambo accused the State of being racist towards Dlamini during his bail hearing, especially the magistrate and the prosecutor whom he accused of laughing off the whole thing.
“The manner in which Mcebo’s bail hearing was dealt [with] was an indicator of a grand plan of rounding us up, of arresting us, sending fear and shock waves into the movement. The least we can do now is to organise ourselves and march forward,” Pambo said.
“We are reorganising and going to every corner telling students that we only have one response, and that is to come out in numbers.”
Pambo said they had the support of Wits support staff as well as black lecturers whom he said have vowed not to teach until the situation was normalised at the university.