The eight students that were arrested during protests on Monday at Wits University were released today on warnings at Hillbrow Magistrates Court and will be required to reappear in court next month.
The charges brought against them include public violence, contravention of a court order, malicious damage to property, assault and possession of a dangerous weapon.
Fellow students and families sat behind the dock awaiting for student protesters Zimbali Ncube, Marola Mathabatha, Siyabonga Bongani Mathebula, Edwin Mokhali, Jonathan Paoli, Sabelo Melane and Thabiso Nhlapo to be called upon.
The courtroom responded in shock and tears were shed by loved ones as the young men were handcuffed on entrance.
Court proceedings started out with the state opposing bail for the eight young men as some of their residential addresses were not verified.
But the students’ lawyers, Advocates Sizo Dlali and Andries Nkome argued successfully that since some addresses could not be immediately verified then their proof of registration would suffice as evidence that they were not flight risks.
Accused number two, Zimbali Ncube, would have spent another night in custody as the verification of his address was not as successful as the others. Magistrate Herman Visser was adamant that he did not want any student to stay in custody unnecessarily.
The state then proposed that each student be released on R1000 bail but this was argued against by Nkome.
“I don’t want to start sounding like a broken record your Honour but these students cannot afford bail,” argued Nkome. The students are still dependant on guardians and parents he said.
The magistrate then released them on a warning. As the eight walked out cheers could be heard outside and fellow students welcomed them in song.
However, The Wits 8 are to return to court on November 2 as the police are said to still be investigating their cases.