Fees Must Fall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile’s release from jail was a victory for the Economic Freedom Fighters, party leader Julius Malema said on Wednesday.
Malema was talking following the Constitutional Court’s decision to release Khanyile on R250 bail.
Khanyile was challenging the decisions by two lower courts to deny him bail.
The court gallery was packed to capacity with journalists, Malema, EFF members, and students.
Other members of the EFF protested outside court.
“He was fighting a just cause and, therefore, he was wrongly arrested. He was not fighting to be put in jail; he was fighting for free education,” Malema told reporters.
“As the EFF, we don’t dump our own. We don’t send them to the battlefield and turn against them like other parties do. We fight for our members. We even fight for members of other parties.”
Malema said they had approached the National Prosecuting Authority after the Supreme Court of Appeal advised them to do so.
“We went to the NPA and said let’s talk, and then NPA refused to talk to us. [They] declined, even the offer which was made by the Supreme Court of Appeal. That is arrogance because the NPA is acting through political instructions.
“The NPA is no longer independent. The NPA is micromanaged by [President] Jacob Zuma who wanted to close down the campaign on Fees Must Fall.”
Earlier on Wednesday, prosecutor Andy Bester told the full bench of justices that the reason the lower court did not grant Khanyile bail was because he was influential.
“He is a law breaker,” Bester said.
He said Khanyile had been expelled from a college before.
“He had threatened police and has expressed himself in favour of damaging property. He has shown he would tell his followers to assault the police,” Bester said.
However, Bester said Khanyile could be given bail on the condition that he did not intimidate staff or obstruct police or any personnel.
Khanyile’s lawyers had earlier argued that the court must decide on granting him bail.
“The correct outcome is, the court should itself grant bail,” advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said.
The State agreed to release him on two conditions that he may not intimidate staff or obstruct police or any personnel.