State’s spirited attempt to convince magistrate to deny Bonginkosi Khanyile bail
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The State on Thursday engaged in a spirited fight to convince magistrate Vincent Hlatshwayo of the Durban Magistrate’s Court that Fees Must Fall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile must be denied bail.
Khanyile, 31, is facing five charges for his role in last month’s unrest that ravaged parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which purportedly started in protest over the 15-month jailing of former president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court.
Khanyile was arrested on Sunday in Johannesburg and brought down to Durban to face the law in the region where he allegedly committed the offences between July 8 and July 11 this year.
Walking into the dock on Thursday morning, Khanyile wore a smile and waved at those who came to support him in court and the media contingent following the case.
He later granted a brief interview from the dock where he insisted that he was innocent and said he was going to walk free.
It was during that interview when Khanyile insisted that he still wants Zuma to be freed and would continue making that call even when he was to be taken to the gallows.
Getting to the business of the day, of getting Khanyile bail, his lawyer Masibonge Matomane read a carefully prepared affidavit stating why he wants to be freed.
Chief among the reasons he advanced was that he has 4 school-going children who rely on him for their survival, so his continued incarceration would threaten their well-being.
Khanyile urged that it was in the interest of justice to free him on bail and pledged that he was going to honour all the conditions of the bail and would be present in court when summoned.
Furthermore, Khanyile, through his lawyer, said keeping him in jail while awaiting the formal trial would be some form of punishment and stressed that the raging Covid-19 pandemic was going to put his life in danger.
Emphatically, Khanyile said if released on bail he was not going to disturb public order as feared by the State.
Taking the stand, senior State prosecutor Yuri Gangai said they are opposed to having Khanyile released on bail.
He said the suspect was facing serious charges as the violence he allegedly instigated left a trail of destruction and resulted in the loss of over 300 lives.
Gangai then read out a long affidavit prepared by the investigating officer in the matter, Lieutenant-Colonel Anton Booysen. The affidavit included four videos of Khanyile addressing crowds.
In one video Khanyile is heard addressing a crowd in Zulu, telling for them to continue with the violence until Zuma is released from jail.
“So we are saying those who are contouring with burning the country they must do so until Msholozi (Zuma) is freed. Those who are pressing on with road blockades must continue to do so until Msholozi is freed,” Khanyile is heard saying in the video.
In another video which was recorded on July 19, outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court while one of Zuma’s cases was being heard virtually, Khanyile pleaded with the public to back calls to have Zuma released.
“It has been a week since Msholozi has been jailed; we plead with you to support him until he is released.
“We greet the police, we greet the soldiers, we greet the communities. We are saying we are not fighting against anyone, we are not fighting against police officers, we are not fighting against the soldiers, but we are requesting you all to support Msholozi, President Zuma, he is 79 years of age, he is imprisoned during the (Covid-19) pandemic in jail.
“We are requesting you, soldiers, we are requesting you, police officers, we are requesting you, traffic cops, to support the call that Bab Msholozi must be free from prison. We support you and we expect you to support uBaba Msholozi.
“What is happening to ubaba Msholozi, it is something which is detrimental in our democracy. More than 300 people have been killed just because Msholozi must be imprisoned,” Khanyile said in the video.
Booysen was called to the witness box to defend his affidavit and had a tough time as Matomane shredded his evidence, at some point telling him that Khanyile was never involved in the planning of the unrest as alleged by the State.
The hearing was still continuing on Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Free Jacob Zuma campaign has lauded Khanyile for his speech from the dock where he insisted that Zuma must be freed from prison and was ready to be jailed for making that call.
The campaign’s spokesperson Carl Niehaus expressed this after a video of Khanyile making the speech started trending.