Mcebo Dlamini: Prison was like an initiation to me

Former Wits University SRC president Mcebo Dlamini remained defiant after he was released on bail on Wednesday, saying he would continue to fight for free education.

“I have been circumcised. Prison to me was like an initiation. I appreciate the opportunity that they gave me. They took us to prison. They thought they were breaking us, they were anointing us,” he told his supporters outside the High Court sitting in Palm Ridge.

Dlamini said he had no regrets and that he had used his time in prison “to think about the future of the black child”.

He added that he was worried about the conditions he saw while in prison.

“Young people are deprived of an opportunity because of the black government. When you go to Sun City [prison], the number of young people is shocking … What makes these young people go to prison is because of the hostility outside … We have a bigger role to play to liberate young black people.”


He said people were forced into prison because of a failed state. 

“When I was in prison, when I was undergoing the initiation process, they asked ‘what are you going to do outside?’. The answer that I gave them is that we are fighting for free decolonised education. 

“The struggle for free education must continue. There must be free education for the prison warders.” 

His supporters cheered him on with ululation and resounding applause. Some were even tearful at the sight of the Fees Must Fall student leader. Dlamini came out of court accompanied by fellow student leaders Vuyani Pambo and Shaeera Kalla. 

He was dressed in a grey T-shirt bearing Steve Biko’s face, along with a black and white keffiyeh draped over his shoulders. Dlamini was arrested in October and has spent almost a month behind bars. He was originally denied bail by Johannesburg Magistrate Albertus Roux.

Judge Ratha Mokgoaltheng overturned Roux’s ruling, saying it was not sound on facts and law. Police previously said they had footage of Dlamini inciting violence and urging students to prevent others from attending class. 

The police also claimed that Dlamini assaulted a female officer during student protests. Dlamini denied this, saying that as a student leader he did not condone violence. – News24

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa Associate Leturer and Co-ordinator of the Honors Programme.

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