The only #FeesMustFall activist who is still in custody Kanya Cekeshe. File picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency(ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - Education activist Hendrick Makaneta has on Tuesday appealed to church leaders to pray for the release of Fees Must Fall student activist Kanya Cekeshe. 

Cekeshe pleaded guilty to setting a police vehicle alight during a fees protest in 2016 and was convicted of public violence and malicious damage to property.

Cekeshe was sentenced to eight years in prison and has been in the Leeuwkop Correctional Centre in Johannesburg since 2017.

"We are aware that the Motsepe Foundation will convene a National Day of Prayer on 24 November 2019 at FNB Stadium, where religious leaders and their various denominations from across the country will gather to pray for the nation. 

"We wish to make a special request to religious leaders that Cekeshe also be put in prayers," Makaneta said.

"We know that the young man has committed a crime. We are in no way condoning crime in our country. We just want to appeal for mercy especially because Cekeshe was part of students who fought for free quality higher education."

"For too long, we have appealed to government to find a way to release Cekeshe but so far our plea has not yielded the desired results. It is for this reason that we are now turning to church leaders with the hope that their prayers can help secure the release of Kanya Cekeshe," Makaneta said. 

Makaneta said students from poor communities enjoy the free education, which was realised because of the effort by students such as Cekeshe.

"It is our considered view that there is no point in keeping such a young man in prison. He is not a danger to society."

In 2018 the Education for Social Justice Foundation wrote a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting intervention in the matter of Cekeshe.

"Although we have not lost hope in the ability of the state to grant Cekeshe amnesty, we believe that prayer by religious leaders can fast track the process as we have run out of options," Makaneta said.

African News Agency (ANA)