Johannesburg – Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola shocked many people when he tweeted on Monday: “We note the dismissal of both the leave to appeal and bail for #FeesMustFall activist Khaya Cekeshe by the Johannesburg Magistrate Court.
“We’re in the process of urgently assisting him with an application for a presidential pardon or other legally available avenues.”
We note the dismissal of both the leave to appeal and bail for fees must fall activists Khaya Cekeshe by the Johannesburg Magistrate Court. We’re in the process of urgently assisting him with an application for presidential pardon or other legally available avenues.
— Minister of Justice and Correctional Services 🇿🇦 (@RonaldLamola) October 14, 2019
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula echoed the sentiments and retweeted Lamola’s tweet on the same day, adding that “this cadre (Cekeshe) must be freed”.
This follows Cekeshe’s bail application that was dismissed on Monday by the Johannesburg Magistrate Court.
He was sentenced to eight years, with three years suspended after pleading guilty to torching a police vehicle in 2016. He is reported to be the last #FeesMustFall activist behind bars.
Political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo from the University of South Africa said: “Lamola’s statement was premature. It is unfortunate that immediately after the judgment, he pronounced like an activist when he had an option to wait.
“It is also illegal to do so. It would be as if he is supporting what students did and that is not good for him nor for the president”.
Dr Ralph Mathekga agreed that Lamola spoke too hastily and should have allowed for the prosecution and appeal process to conclude before talking pardon.
Professor Somadoda Fikeni said that while Lamola ought to draw a line between party and government, people often defend the sentiments of their constituents.