Charges against #FeesMustFall protesters dropped

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Photo of protesters outside Parliament
Students protested at Parliament on 21 October 2015. Photo: Ashleigh Furlong

The charges against 29 people, who were arrested in or around Parliament last year while protesting against university fee increases, have been withdrawn.

The group, mostly students, appeared in a packed Cape Town Magistrate’s Court this morning. They faced a number of charges which included public violence and contravening of the Gatherings Act.

Over the past month, lawyers representing the group have been making legal representations to Western Cape director of public prosecutions Rodney de Kock on this matter.

On 21 October 2015, protesters forced their way through the gates of Parliament and reached the steps of the National Assembly before being dispersed by riot police with stun grenades and tazers.

The protesters were among thousands of students who participated in a nationwide protest against proposed university fee increases. The movement is now known as the #FeesMustFall campaign.

Last year UCT also made representations to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking for charges to be dropped against those arrested at the University campuses on 20 October and in the vicinity of Parliament on 21 October.

After the hearing this morning, one of the accused, Markus Trengove, told GroundUp the ruling was a victory for the movement. “We are happy with the ruling, but there are still many students across the country who are not as privileged as most of us to have legal representation. We can’t ignore this,” he said.

According to media reports, Cape Town Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba was also present in court and was seen hugging several of the protesters after proceedings.

TOPICS:  Tertiary Education

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