‘I prayed for an end to this’ – Chikane on charges being dropped against students

Cape Town – ANC stalwart and cleric Frank Chikane says he is pleased that his prayers for his son Kgotsi and 28 other students have been answered, after charges were withdrawn against them on Wednesday over #Feesmustfall protests last year.

Flanked by his wife, Kagiso, at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, he said he had prayed for the matter to come to an end because it was very disruptive for students’ lives.

“The point I have made before is that I respect these young people. Most of them are very privileged and their parents could pay for them,” he told News24.

“The struggle is not about personal interests, but about the majority, so they are really taking a risk for others and this is the spirit of our struggle.”

His son Kgotsi said he was relieved, happy and excited for what lay ahead.

The provincial director of public prosecutions had decided it was not in the public interest to prosecute the students for contravening the public gatherings act, public violence and trespassing.

“This protest outside national Parliament was peaceful and there was no damage caused to property by the protesters. The protest was against the high cost of higher education in this country and enjoyed wide public support,” said National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila.

At one stage, six of the students had faced the possibility of treason charges, according to initial charge sheets shown to the media.

Smiling, Chikane said he had told his son to frame the charge sheet.

“It is a very historical, important piece of information,” he said.

“When he was kept overnight, I couldn’t understand the treason charge. I thought it was crazy. I wondered how anybody would have thought these young students would be involved in treason. It was a moment of craziness. I think it was panic.”

He said he was happy that government was dealing with the higher education challenges students had raised.

Ilan Price, son of UCT Vice Chancellor Max Price, and student activist Chumani Maxwele also expressed their delight at charges being withdrawn against them.

Price believed there was still a very long way to go and the struggle was far from over.

“I am obviously relieved, but I think in some ways, I was expecting it. It is the right outcome. It is a just outcome. I can’t imagine what would have come from prosecuting students who were charged with public violence, but were in no way violent at all,” he said.

Calling it a “beautiful victory”, Maxwele said students would fight until the end against “ridiculously high” fees in higher education institutions.



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