#FeesMustFall activists urged to apply for Presidential pardons

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Ronald Lamola says the offer to assist student activists who were arrested as part of the #Fees Must Fall protests, to apply for a Presidential pardon, still stands.

He said while no applications for a Presidential pardon or the expungement of criminal records have been received from the affected students, student leaders who were at the forefront of holding talks with the department are urged to come forward with a list of student protesters in order to help them with the applications process.

Lamola said this when Ministers in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster fielded oral questions at the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday. 

He said that there has been an agreement between his predecessor, former Minister Michael Masutha, the Director-General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the student leaders concerned that the list of all such students would be collated and submitted to the department.

In turn, the department would then assist the relevant students to complete the relevant forms concerned.

“Since the offer was made, to date, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has not received such a list from the student leaders … nor indeed any relevant application for a Presidential pardon nor any application for the expungement of a criminal record.

“The last mentioned applications are considered by the Director-General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, meaning, expungement of criminal records. The offer by the department to assist the relevant students still stands. The hands of the department are tied if we do not receive any application,” he said.

Lamola said he has been informed by the department that there has been a demand from the students for a blanket amnesty for students arrested and prosecuted because of the #Fees Must Fall protests.

“The students were informed by my predecessor that there are no provisions in law which provide for general blanket amnesty in such cases.

“There are two processes available in law at present, namely, to apply for a Presidential pardon, which is a Presidential Constitutional power in terms of Section 842 (J) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa if a custodial sentence has been served, or they apply for an expungement of a criminal record in terms of Section 276 (i) of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 as amended, if a non-custodial sentence was imposed on the offender,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za