The group of students who set out from KwaZulu-Natal to walk to the Union Buildings in support of an incarcerated activist as they entered the capital city on the N1 in Centurion. Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - Wednesday saw the tough but weary group of 40 students, led by #FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile take on the last leg of their 450km walk from KwaZulu-Natal to the Union Buildings, where they spent the night in a bid to deliver a petition to the Presidency.

Saying they would stay there for as long as they had to, the group explained that they had walked since December 18 in a bid to petition President Cyril Ramaphosa to release convicted activist Kanya Cekeshe, who is serving a five-year jail term in Leeuwkop Prison for burning a police van in Braamfontein at the height of the #FeesMustFall protests in 2016.

Khanyile also served time in jail for his part in the student protests.

The Pretoria News caught up with them about 20km and four hours away from the Union Buildings, and they said that while their journey had been strenuous and emotionally draining, they were adamant and determined to make it through so as to hand over their lists of demands.

They walked in the rain with a determined step, marching along the N1 near Centurion, singing Struggle songs while clad in their yellow raincoats. Besides them were support vehicles belonging to senior EFF members.

They began their gruelling walk in Isandlwana, north of Durban, getting assistance with accommodation, food and healthcare along the way from churches, NGOs and others as they made their way to the seat of government to highlight the plight of poor young people.

Among the issues they want the government to give attention to are poverty, unemployment, inequality and dispossession, they said.

“If this fails we are open to other ideas and forms,” Khanyile said.

He explained that along the way they had engaged communities, asking them about issues they were faced with.

On Sunday they visited the convicted activist Cekeshe in prison, and delivered a memorandum to the head of the prison.

The group further engaged Cekeshe’s family on a way forward for his release.

As they continued walking while the leaders engaged with the Pretoria News, Khanyile urged that their demands be listened to as failure to do that, he said, foresaw the next generation changing their strategy towards attaining liberation.

He admitted that while the walk had been emotionally draining, without family or friends, they had survived, as people along the route were sympathetic and patriotic.

“We must thank the people of South Africa they are loving and caring, and they do have a common purpose what we need is unity among ourselves.

“As young people we are willing to build South Africa to become a better country we are demonstrating this by sacrificing our festive season by walking peacefully and unarmed, saying and pushing methods that are peaceful,” Khanyile said.

They will attempt to deliver their petition this morning, he said, failing which they would, just like the Khoisan group who have been camped out at the Union Buildings for just over a month, wait until they are attended to.

Pretoria News