A lone Fees Must Fall protester was ejected by Parliamentary bouncers on Wednesday after attempting to disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reply to questions in the National Assembly.
The unidentified man reportedly stormed the public gallery of the National Assembly shortly after Ramaphosa started responding to questions from MPs.
The man raised a placard and shouted “fees must fall” while the president was addressing the house.
The incident followed a demonstration outside Parliament that began earlier in the afternoon, when a group of demonstrators picketed for presidential pardons to activists facing charges related to Fees Must Fall protests.
The demonstration came after student activist Bonginkosi Khanyile staged a sleep-out on the lawns of the Union Buildings on Tuesday for the same cause.
Khanyile had travelled from Durban to Pretoria with his mattress and planned to sleep at the Union Buildings until Ramaphosa responded to his request for a presidential pardon for activists arrested during protests.
The 28-year-old was found guilty of public violence and for being in possession of a slingshot during the uprisings.
He was also convicted of public violence, trespassing and hijacking a bus during the fees riots in Pretoria.
Khanyile is set to be sentenced in October and is currently under house arrest.
Prior to Khanyile’s pilgrimage, Fees Must Fall student activist Mcebo Dlamini had also walked from Wits University in Johannesburg to the Union Buildings in Pretoria last Friday to highlight the plight of students in jail.
Dlamini had begun his journey at 10am and arrived at the Union Buildings just before 8pm to hand over a document to the presidency to plead a case for jailed students.
“I want him to know that students are sorry for the damage [caused] to property during protests. But we are bleeding as children. I want him to be a parent and help his children,” Dlamini said outside the Union Buildings after his 10-hour walk.
Dlamini also faced criminal charges related to the protests.
Last week, Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor disclosed that institutions of higher learning across the country suffered nearly R800 million in protest damage since their surge in 2015.
Despite the mounting calls for Ramaphosa to pardon the convicted students, the president said he would be undermining the constitution if he were to grant amnesty to the activists.
He said that Khanyile’s pilgrimage to the Union Buildings was misdirected and should instead be targeted at the justice department.
“The president is sympathetic to and appreciative of the justness of the cause of the activists, however, the petitioning of the Union Buildings is unfortunately misdirected,” presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said.
“The president cannot interfere with the prosecutorial decisions of the National Prosecuting Authority. This is one of the sacrosanct principles of our law so he cannot decree a ‘blanket amnesty’ as some of the calls demand.
“As for pardons, the department of justice, not the president, should be approached for this. There are clear processes to be followed by those seeking a pardon,” Diko said.
Meanwhile, EFF leader Julius Malema used the incident of the ousted protester to put a follow-up question to Ramaphosa in regard to the conduct of parliamentary bouncers.
“They did not even bother to ask him a question ... they just frogmarched him from the house. This is no way to treat our young people‚” Malema said while some ANC MPs heckled him.
Ramaphosa said Malema was correct in raising the matter‚ saying he had not noticed the ejection of the young man as he was focused on his speech.