Cheers of joy outside court as NPA declines to prosecute arrested Wits students
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Johannesburg - There were cheers of joy outside the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court, after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced that it would not prosecute seven Wits University students, who were arrested during protests on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The students were arrested during the second day of the protests and taken to the Hillbrow Police Station.
The students are challenging the university’s financial aid policies, which are said to have excluded a great number of students.
Wits students and activists picketed outside the court on Thursday morning, in support of their fellow students.
Wits SRC legal and policy officer Gabriella Nechama Farber told The Star that four students were arrested on Wednesday morning and two more were arrested in the afternoon, on Empire Road, outside the campus.
“These students were unfairly treated. They were just grabbed and these were not students who were burning tyres, they were being as peaceful as possible,” she said.
Farber added that she was currently suspended by the university, as well as the student representative council (SRC) treasurer-general Kanakana Mudzanani.
“This is not just a Wits situation. This is a national situation of universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centres, because we are all students and we’re all suffering.”
Wits EFF student command gender and transformation officer Bukisa Boniswa added that one student was also arrested on Tuesday morning, and that the students would continue with their protests until their demands were met.
“We are inviting every student in the country to join us because this is a student issue countrywide,” she said.
NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjondwane announced that they would not prosecute any of the students arrested during the protest at this point.
“The reasons why the prosecution declined to prosecute, is due to insufficient evidence,” she said.
Mjondwane added that the NPA had received three separate dockets for the arrested students.
She said that in one of the dockets, there were five suspects arrested for public violence, who were released on warning on Wednesday morning.
“We also had two separate dockets with individual suspects, and they were both released on R1000 bail last night at Hillbrow police station,” she said.
Mjondwane, however, added that in one of the dockets, where a suspect had been arrested for malicious damage to property, the docket has been referred for further investigations.
News that the NPA had decided not to prosecute the students was met with cheers and applause from the students who were picketing outside.