Students gather outside the court as former deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana appears for assault. PHOTO: Lindi Masinga/ANA

Johannesburg - University students on Wednesday gathered outside the Randburg Magistrate’s Court, where former higher education minister, Mduduzi Manana, was appearing on assault charges, to which he was expected to plead guilty.

Students from the University of Johannesburg and Fort Hare and the Tshwane University of Technology gathered outside the courthouse, with most expressing support for Manana and the woman he is accused of assaulting. Students in support of Manana were dressed in t-shirts bearing his picture along with a message "#WeAreSorry".

Democratic Alliance (DA) members carried placards written "End Violence Against Women" and "Real men don't hit women".

Manana resigned from his deputy minister position on August 19 after the public storm over his assault of a woman at a nightspot in Fourways, Johannesburg, earlier in the month.

A video of the incident showing him assaulting the woman and a friend at Cubana restaurant went viral 

The woman, who was later identified as Mandisa Duma, laid charges against the deputy minister at Douglasdale Police Station.

Manana is out on R5,000 bail.

Democratic Alliance (DA) members protest as former deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana appears for assault. PHOTO: Lindi Masinga/ANA

On Wednesday, University of Johannesburg student Brian Matyila said that as students they were in support of both Manana and his alleged victim.

"We feel sorry for the victim and we hold her in our prayers, but we are also aware that Mduduzi Manana is the youngest person to have held such a position and we look up to him." 

Manana is facing two counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. 

Matyila said that following the incident, students gathered to have discussions on gender violence and felt that it was good that Manana accepted that he was wrong and that he could be a brand ambassador against patriarchy.

At the previous proceedings, Magistrate Liezel Davis made an order that no pictures or videos of the former deputy minister could be taken while he was in court.

The matter continues.