Activist Dlamini spurns State's bargain offer, opts to go to trial
The Wits University law student made his 30th court appearance at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court for public violence-related charges connected to #FeesMustFall protests at Wits University in 2016.
He refused the prosecutor’s bargain offer and opted to go to trial, the date of which will be decided next month.
Outside the court, Dlamini said accepting a plea bargain would taint him and his future career and discourage future activists.
“A plea bargain says there is an element of guilt in you. We are not pleading guilty to all the charges We couldn’t accept a plea bargain because I’m a final-year law student, and if I get a criminal record, it means the more than 12 years I’ve spent at varsity are fruitless,” said Dlamini.
He is adamant that the charges against him were politically motivated and that his prosecution could be a lesson to future activists.
“I also believe that the trial is not about me, it’s about youth activism in South Africa.
“If I succumb now I’d be discouraging young activists from taking part in such issues. You are not prosecuting me, you are prosecuting a youth’s voice that advocates for change and raises sensitive issues,” said Dlamini.
He was arrested in October 2016 and released a month later after paying R2000 bail.
Dlamini is facing charges of assault, theft, damage to property, possession of a dangerous weapon, public violence and violating a court order.
He was not bothered about going to trial, saying he had prepared a good legal team whose prowess he compared to the Spanish football league.
“I have a serious La Liga team of legal minds.
“I’m not going to take chances. When we come back here I will be pulling a serious group of advocates because we want to defeat this thing once and for all.
“We are going to defeat it for all other activists in South Africa. We are going to teach people law. The State doesn’t have a case against us (#FeesMustFall activists) because the charges are all the same across the board.”