The Johannesburg Central Magistrate Court has said that it is not in the interest of justice for #FeesMustFall leader at the University of Witwatersrand Mcebo Dlamini to be granted bail.
Dlamini appeared in court on Wednesday after being arrested on five charges in the early hours of Sunday morning. The charges include theft, public violence, malicious damage to property, contravening a court order and assault.
On Tuesday, state prosecutor Steven Rubin argued that Dlamini should be denied bail because he has “shown a propensity to ignore court orders”. The state said that Dlamini had knowingly disobeyed a court order Wits obtained in April against violent protests. In their submission, the state provided photographs of Dlamini wearing shields and helmets from police or private security that he allegedly stole. They also submitted a photograph of Dlamini with rocks at Wits during a protest to show the court he had protested in a violent manner.
Dlamini’s defense attorney Mongezi Ntanga maintained, however, that his client is an advocate of peaceful protests and was not notified that Wits had obtained the court order. While Rubin argued that Dlamini posed a flight risk because he was born in Swaziland and could return there, Ntanga said that his client would respect the court and any conditions for bail.
On Monday, Dlamini said that he should be released on bail because he had a test to write on Tuesday, but the state prosecutor confirmed with the registrar at Wits that Dlamini was not registered for any courses that would be writing tests on Tuesday. The state argued that Dlamini had disrespected the court by being untruthful about the test.
Wits students at the court reacted strongly to Magistrate B Roux’s ruling on Wednesday. Some began crying, while others said they planned to regroup and discuss a plan of action. Negotiations between Wits students and the university management have deadlocked, but the academic programme has resumed. Following the judgment that Dlamini would be denied bail, some students said that they would intesify their protests.
Dlamini will be remanded to police custody until his trial begins on November 15.