The trial of Bonginkosi Khanyile, the controversial leading figure in KwaZulu-Natal’s Fees Must Fall movement, has officially commenced, nearly three years after his arrest.
Khanyile appeared in the Durban Regional Court on Tuesday, where Magistrate Siphiwe Hlophe will be presiding over the matter.
Khanyile, who this year graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Public Management at the Durban University of Technology following his suspension from the institution, appeared calm during proceedings.
The State levelled several serious charges against Khanyile, including inciting public violence, possession of explosives, contravention of the Gatherings Act, possession of a dangerous weapon, failure to comply with police orders, common assault, as well as hindering traffic.
When asked to plea, an unhappy Khanyile told the court that his Legal Aid lawyer had advised him to plead guilty.
“I feel uncomfortable with the whole processes. My lawyer says I must plead guilty.”
Hlophe insisted that he had to plead for himself. Khanyile again began his explanation. Hlophe interrupted, saying: “Once charges are put to the accused, they must plead. If you do not plead, a plea of not guilty on all counts will apply.”
The majority of charges against Khanyile relate to his leadership during protest action at DUT on September 27, 2016.
State prosecutor Roshiela Benimadho commenced proceedings with Metro Police Captain Luke Fernandez. Fernandez is responsible for special events within eThekwini Municipality.
He is expected to testify that neither Khanyile, nor other Fees Must Fall members, had protested legally.
The State is also in possession of video evidence that is expected to implicate Khanyile on many of his charges.
Khanyile was previously denied bail on several occasions and was only released after taking his matter to the Constitutional Court.
Despite spending six months in jail during this period, he graduated summa cum laude at DUT. – News24