Accused unrest instigator Bonginkosi Khanyile’s family says that he is no criminal
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Durban - The Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday granted #FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile R5 000 bail with strict conditions, including reporting at the Hillbrow police station twice a week, between 6am and 6pm – in a move one of his relatives said was reminiscent of apartheid era rulings.
Khanyile, 31, was arrested last month in Johannesburg and charged for his role in the widespread riots, which swept across KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng, in July.
The protests began as what appeared to be a campaign in opposition to the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma, but soon spiralled into wide-scale looting, violence and destruction of property.
Khanyile, who faces a string of charges – including two counts of holding an illegal gathering, and incitement to commit public violence – has been among those at the forefront, calling for the immediate release of the former head of state.
As the court granted him bail on Tuesday, it ruled that whenever he was in Durban, he must report at Durban Central Police Station, between the same hours as at Hillbrow Police Station, and on the same days, while he was also instructed to suspend and not use his Twitter account.
Khanyile was also given a stern warning that if he is found in breach of his bail conditions, the state can bring an application to have his bail revoked and he can be kept in custody for the duration of the criminal matter.
Outside court, Khanyile’s family members, including his mother Phumzile Khathini and his cousin Philani Nduli, were in high spirits following his successful bail application, but also hit out at the strict bail conditions that had he been slapped with by the court.
Nduli insisted that Khanyile had done nothing wrong, but had simply called for the release of former president Jacob Zuma.
“Khanyile is a law abiding citizen and is eligible to get bail, and, indeed, we have been proven correct today, we have been vindicated in what we have been saying, so it’s all celebration for us, it’s all jolly for us today.
“We are celebrating that our brother is a free man, though we are not happy with some of the conditions that were imposed on him because they remind us of the times of apartheid, where exactly what was happening then, is happening here – where the intention is to cut away his freedom of speech.
“When they say he cannot use his Twitter account, it means he cannot voice and express his views on matters of this country, so we are saying we are not happy with the conditions imposed on him, but we welcome the decision that he is granted bail, we are very happy,” Nduli said.
Khathini said that the court’s decision had brought her untold joy and had re-instilled her faith in the country’s justice system because the court had done the right thing by releasing him on bail, as there was no reason not to release him.
“He is not a criminal, he’s never run away or even skipped the country and, whenever he's due to appear before court, he appears and never runs away. I am also glad that Msholozi (former president Jacob Zuma) has also been released because that’s what he (Khanyile) wanted,” Khathini said.