Minister Michael Masutha briefs media on Janus Waluz parole application. Photo: Flickr, GovernmentZA

Justice Minister says his department will assist arrested student protesters

Are these convicted student protesters receiving special treatment?


Minister Michael Masutha briefs media on Janus Waluz parole application. Photo: Flickr, GovernmentZA

Michael Masutha, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, says his department will assist students arrested in connection with the Fees Must Fall protests.

Students are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to grant amnesty to learners caught up in the chaotic wave of protests emanating from the Fees Must Fall movement in 2015.

Recently, a number of students identified as ringleaders in the protest movement have been convicted on various charges of incitement and public violence. Bonginkosi Khanyile, a graduate from the Durban University of Technology (DUT), was the most recent activist to be jailed.

Fees Must Fall damages exceed R786 million

Following the arrest and successful conviction of protesting students, the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC), has threatened retaliatory action which would make the country ‘ungovernable’.

The EFFSC and other protest defenders have blasted the government for enacting, what they have labelled, a witchhunt, spurred on by a clear political vendetta.

A report by Higher education and training minister, Naledi Pandor, has put the total cost of damages incurred during the protests at around R800 million.

According to EWN, Masutha has noted the criticism levelled at his department, and is now willing to assist the beleaguered protesters, within the confines of the law. While the general public may see this as bowing to pressure, Masutha maintains that his department will not flout due process, saying:

“The minister will, where appropriate, guide the students on making applications to the NPA for the prosecutorial decisions.”

Presidential pardon

But it seems the minister is going the extra mile for incarcerated student protesters, advising them on applications for presidential pardons. Masutha confirmed that his department was education the locked-up learners on the process, saying:

“The Constitution of the Republic confers on the president, among others, the power to grant pardon.”

Yet, despite all the minister’s efforts, his proposal has been rejected outright by activists vying for the freedom of their peers.