Former Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) president and #FeesMustFall activist, Mcebo Dlamini, has rejected a plea bargain offered by the State during his latest court appearance at the Johannesburg Central Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, February 20.
Dlamini’s case relates to his arrest during the 2016 #FeesMustFall protests after which he was charged with public violence, malicious damage to property, theft, two counts of contempt of a court order, intimidation and assault of a police officer.
“I couldn’t afford to take the plea bargain because it had negative implications on my career. I have a career in the legal field as I am doing my final year. With any guilty verdict, any criminal record, I will never serve as a lawyer in South Africa, said Dlamini, who is currently registered at Wits for the LLB postgraduate programme.
Dlamini says he has appeared in court on several occasions and finds the process tiring. “I don’t know how I feel anymore. I am numb because we’ve been undergoing these strenuous processes for a long time. You end up losing the senses of feelings,” said a visibly drained Dlamini.
Dlamini made headlines in 2014 when he claimed to be the grandson of the late anti-apartheid activist and member of the African National Congress (ANC), Walter Sisulu. He later withdrew the claim saying that he was not in actual fact related to the Sisulu family.
The #FeesMustFall activist also raised eyebrows when he made a controversial Facebook post while president of the Wits SRC that read, “I love Adolf Hitler” referring to his leadership style.
Dlamini went on to lead the #FeesMustFall protests at Wits in 2016 during which he was arrested.
On Tuesday, Dlamini, represented by Nelson Mathibe and Mpho Morolane, made a call for free education beneficiaries to be mindful of the sacrifices that #FeesMustFall activists have made in order for free education to be realised.
“To the beneficiaries of free education, they must know there is nothing that is for free. They must not go there and say it is free education and relax,” he said.
“Everyone else who will benefit from free education, for them to thank us is to graduate in record time,” Dlamini added.
Dlamini questioned the State’s prosecution of #FeesMustFall activists given that the protests had moved government to introduce free education for some sectors of society.
“If government says ‘there’s free education, we are committing’ now those who fought for it, why are you prosecuting them?,” he said.
Naledi Chirwa who was a prominent student activist during #FeesMustFall protests at the University of Pretoria said that it made no sense that activists were still facing prosecution. “It’s quite ironic that now, the State is coming to say that they support free education, but they have not let off the people who are advocating for free education,” she said.
“If you agree that fees must fall and you have them fall, then how do you prosecute us for having made them fall,” said Chirwa.
Dlamini’s case has been postponed to March 2 when a trial date is expected to be set.