Monwabisi Matinise was sentenced to five years in prison for the torching of the historic St Mark’s Anglican Church in 2017
Monwabisi Matinise was sentenced to five years in prison for the torching of the historic St Mark’s Anglican Church in 2017

Fees Must Fall activist sentenced to five years in prison

By Velani Ludidi Time of article published May 12, 2021

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Cape Town – A FeesMustFall activist has been sentenced to five years imprisonment by the Western Cape regional court. Monwabisi Lukhanyo Matinise was arrested following the torching of the historic St Mark’s Anglican Church on the District Six campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in 2017.

Police, at the time, said the 24-year-old was caught by security with a petrol bomb in his hand. Reports later surfaced that it might be the work of a security company that stands to benefit from the unrest that was taking place at the time.

Matinise was doing his first year when he was arrested and has over the years denied that he was behind the torching of the over 150-year-old church. His mother, Nomzamo, says he was sentenced for arson and public violence.

“He was accused of burning the church but he told me it was not him. He says he was framed as he was close to the church at the time of the fire. My son is not a monster, he did not do that, but the police failed to investigate this case properly”

The mother says the last three years have been stressful for her and her child. “He was suspended by the university following his arrest. He could not keep his jobs because he always had to attend court, sometimes three times a month. Employers got tired of him always taking time off.”

The 24-year-old was transferred to Voorberg Prison where he will serve his sentence. He joins the list of activists like Bonginkosi Khanyile and Kanya Cekeshe who were also sentenced for their involvement in the movement.

Nomzamo adds that her son was alone throughout the trial. “He attended the trial with family, there were no students who were with him as it happened with other students attending cases. I wish something can be done to get him out of jail as he does not belong there.”

A group of students who were activists with Monwabisi say they only found out at the beginning of the month about the sentencing.

“Earlier this month, it came to our attention that one of our own, the activist, patriot and the revolutionist of note, has been once again arrested and unfairly sentenced to five years imprisonment as from March 31.”

“Well, as the revolutionists and some former #FeesmustFall activists, we found the judgment imposed on fighter Lukhanyo Matinise very unfair, unjust and preposterous. However, we have to say though, that his lawyer did mention that each year in that five years is equivalent to two months.”

The group said they will meet weekly to try and find a way to assist their fellow friend.

NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila confirmed the sentencing. “The matter was finalised in the regional court.”

Weekend Argus

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