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No presidential pardon for Cekeshe just yet, says Lamola

Fees Must Fall activist Kanya Cekeshe lost his application to appeal against his conviction.
Fees Must Fall activist Kanya Cekeshe lost his application to appeal against his conviction.
Image: Vusumzi_Gqalane via Twitter

Jailed Fees Must Fall activist Kanya Cekeshe cannot be granted a presidential pardon just yet, justice minister Ronald Lamola told parliament on Wednesday.

Cekeshe, is in jail after pleading guilty to - and being convicted of - malicious damage to property charges when he helped set a police van on fire during free-education protests.

He applied for leave to appeal against his 2017 conviction but this was denied in the Johannesburg magistrate's court on Monday.

There have been growing calls for him to receive a pardon.

Lamola told parliament's justice and correctional services that he was willing to help students who were involved in the protests. However, in Cekeshe's case, he might not be able to help for a while yet.

"I made it clear there is no blanket amnesty. Everyone must apply. We made the same offer to Kanya Cekeshe. He has since applied for leave to appeal, so any presidential pardon application cannot happen at this stage. We remain available to assist any of the Fees Must Fall protesters," he said.

Lamola's comments were contained in a statement released by the committee on Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the committee heard that it was "critical" that the justice system be digitised in order for courts to function optimally, and that special focus would also be given to cases of sexual violence, domestic violence and the emerging threat of cybercrimes.

Committee chair Bulelani Magwanishe noted the improvements Lamola had in the pipeline.

"These planned improvements must be welcomed. Anything that will make it easier for South Africans to access justice must be applauded. We note the plans on sexual offences, domestic violence and femicide. This is critical as South Africans want to see improvements regarding this matter urgently," he said.

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