'Will 14 000 prisoners make sure they meet conditions?': DA condemns remissions
Johannesburg - The DA has accused the ANC-led government of creating the wrong precedent by facilitating the release of convicted #FeesMustFall activist Kanya Cekeshe.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa issued special remissions for more than 14000 prisoners this week, which will make them eligible for parole.
Cekeshe was arrested in 2016 and sentenced to five years in jail for burning a police vehicle during the #FeesMustFall protests, which engulfed the country in 2015/16 as students pressured the government to roll out free higher education.
While the EFF, ANC, student movements and civil society organisations, including Section27, hailed the decision to grant Cekeshe parole, the DA condemned the move.
DA spokesperson on justice and correctional services Glynnis Breytenbach said the party was opposed to Cekeshe’s release because he had failed to argue why he should not face the full might of the law.
“It does not matter how just the cause was, what Cekeshe did is that he burnt a police vehicle.
“Every single day you hear people complaining that they call the police and the police don’t come and when you ask them why they don’t come they say they don’t have vehicles.”
Last month, Cekeshe had to be hospitalised after suffering mental health challenges.
Breytenbach said even Cekeshe’s deteriorating medical condition could not be used as the reason for freeing him.
“You get treatment for any condition in prison.
“You can’t say everybody who gets sick in prison should be released. Everybody will get sick.”
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola indicated that the special remissions were in line with the Day of Reconciliation and intended to integrate some of the offenders back in society.
Breytenbach said the DA was opposed to the entire process of special remissions, saying none of the prescribed conditions for parole would be followed.
“When you are going to release 14000 people, do you think for every one of those 14000 prisoners you are going to carefully make sure that they meet all the conditions? I don’t think so.”
AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo is among the prisoners who are set to benefit from the special remissions.
Dalindyebo was sentenced to a 12-year term for kidnapping, arson, assault, culpable homicide and defeating the ends of justice.
Breytenbach said the DA viewed the release of the many prisoners as a ploy to divert attention on the release of Cekeshe and Dalindyebo.
“More than 14000 people are going to be released with very little attention to detail and this is just a cover to release two people who have exhausted every other legal possibility.
“The court process has run its course and the judiciary found that all of these people should serve a sentence, after carefully considering all the facts.”
The DA Student Organisation (Daso) was caught in-between either joining other student formations in welcoming Cekeshe’s release or joining its mother body in condemning the move.
Daso national chairperson Kwena Moloto said: “We respect the decision.
“But it has been our stance on the Kanya Cekeshe issue that the rule of law must take its course.”