The announcement came after Masutha met with hundreds of #FeesMustFall activists who protested outside Parliament last week and those who staged a sleep-out on the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria, demanding amnesty for crimes they were convicted of.
Student activist Bonginkosi Khanyile said he was one of approximately 560 students either convicted or facing convictions after fighting for what they believed in.
“Young people in South Africa are not violent; if we were, South Africa would be in ashes. We remain neglected by government and face unemployment, stress, alcohol and drug abuse because the government is failing us as young people.
“We want a pardon for all and amnesty for those in jail, those suspended and those facing jail charges because of the 2016 struggle.”
Masutha said the department would facilitate applications and make a recommendation to the president for a decision on whether students could receive amnesty.
“I proposed the students provide a list of all affected, those who are arrested and still in custody or charged. The National Prosecuting Authority evaluates each case, in order to determine the seriousness or the charges,
“I will guide the students on the process of compiling applications for presidential pardon. It’s worth noting that presidential pardons are granted in respect of convicted and sentenced persons only. Under no circumstances can presidential pardon be predetermined,” said Masutha.
Masutha said the criminal justice system provided avenues for alternatives restorative justice as opposed to criminal prosecution, but government could not favour any person or group of people with punishment outside the existing constitutional and legal framework.