#FeesMustFall Dlamini leader tells of his time behind bars

“There was a knock on my door and I was‚ like‚ ‘Hawu‚ at this time? What’s going on? Hayi‚ I’m not going to open‚ I’m resting now.’

“They came and knocked [on my door]. When I checked through the window‚ I saw that the [police] were surrounding the building.

“I kept quiet for a while and then the banging increased. I had to ask them‚ ‘What is going on?’‚” said Fees Must Fall leader Mcebo Freedom Dlamini.

He started to get dressed and then the police stormed in.

This what Dlamini says happened at 1am on October 15‚ after three weeks of intensified Fees Must Fall protests at the University of the Witwatersrand that were marked by a heavy police presence on the campus.

Four to six police heavily armed officers escorted him out of his room‚ and about eight police vehicles were waiting outside the students’ residence.

He was taken to Hillbrow police station‚ then to Jeppe police station and eventually ended up at Cleveland police station where statements were taken. He contacted his lawyer‚ Dali Mpofu‚ the Economic Freedom Fighters national chairperson.

“It has been quiet a traumatic experience‚” said Dlamini. “Home was invaded by the police and it made one look like a hardcore criminal. It has been a situation that I wouldn’t like any student to go through‚ it’s a bad thing for one to undergo.”

“It has been quite a traumatic experience‚” said Dlamini. “Home was invaded by the police and it made one look like a hardcore criminal. It has been a situation that I wouldn’t like any student to go through‚ it’s a bad thing for one to undergo.”

He was warmly welcomed by the guards at Johannesburg’s Sun City prison‚ and then by the prison warders and the inmates. And the senior prisoners to took him under their wing.

“They prepared me for life in inside prison. I must say the prisoners who were waiting for trial really prepared me‚” said Dlamini.

The prisoners encouraged him to carry on with the Fees Must Fall movement. “They told me that they didn’t want their brothers to come to prison and it’s only through education that can ensure [that doesn’t happen].

“To be honest with you‚ even when maybe depression was attacking‚ the motivation from the prisoners made us pick up again and continue with the fight (for free tuition and the decolonisation of knowledge).”

He said there was a slight problem when he got to prison because prison warders were not sure where to put him – they deliberated whether he should be “isolated” or placed with all the other prisoners.

“So at first I was in isolation. I was not even supposed to meet the other prisoners because there was a question of [whether] I was dangerous and influential and [that] I might cause a revolt in prison.”

He was then moved to a section where there was about 50 prisoners and where they were locked in for most of the day‚ getting one hour to refresh‚ stretch and bath.

Dlamini‚ who is asthmatic‚ said he had to visit to hospital quite often because the blankets were terrible.

The student leader is facing charges of public violence‚ theft‚ malicious damage to property and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He was granted R2 000 bail in Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. His next court appearance is on November 15 at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. – Tiso Black Star Group Digital

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