South African police have arrested 567 persons in 265 cases relating to the student protests over fees at the country’s institutions of higher learning and training.
Acting National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) General Kgomotso Phahlane told a media briefing here Monday the arrests were made from Feb 1 to Monday and among those arrested is student leader Mcebo Dlamini.
Dlamini was arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He appeared in a Johannesburg court Monday and the case has been remanded until Tuesday for a bail application.
General Phahlane dismissed allegations the police were targeting student leaders to destabilise the students’ #FeesMustFall initiative.
“This is untrue. The role of the police is to prevent, investigate and combat crime and to maintain stability. That is the role we are playing at universities across the country. Those who commit acts of criminality will be investigated and when sufficient evidence is obtained after a thorough investigation, arrests will be effected.”
Gen. Phahlane also dismissed suggestions police have taken over operational control at some institutions. He said management and security remains the responsibility of the universities concerned.
He stressed that police work in this regard is guided by the Constitution. “Police continue to take action to disperse students who are disrupting classes and targeting those who wish to study and write exams.”
Examinations are being held at different institutions and students are attending class. At Wits, for example, the institution has reported a 70 to 80 per cent attendance rate despite the protest at its Braamfontein campus in Johannesburg on Friday afternoon. Cars were stoned and two vehicles were set alight.
“These incidents bear testimony to our previous assertion that criminal elements or groups with their own agendas have infiltrated the #FeesMustFall initiative for their own purposes,” Gen. Phahlane said.
Police had received several reports of arson, petrol bomb attacks and petrol bombs or large quantities of petrol at various locations, he added. Vehicles, especially police vehicles, had also been attacked with petrol bombs while perpetrators covered their faces to avoid being identified.
Another area of concern for the police is what they termed the “disinformation campaign” in which several allegations are made via social media such as that female students have been attacked, assaulted and randomly shot at in their residences by police.
“We have looked into these allegations and found absolutely no evidence to support them and police deployed there have vehemently denied such conduct,” Gen. Phahlane said.
“We therefore make an appeal that anyone who claims to have been treated in such a manner by the police should open a criminal case, provide witness names and/or evidence and allow the matter to be thoroughly investigated.”
He reminded students to act responsibly during protests were legitimate concerns are raised. “We have said repeatedly that we will support those wishing to protest peacefully and lawfully and that we believe dialogue should take precedence,” he said.
He called on all sectors of society including parents, academics, analysts, religious and traditional leaders to contribute towards finding a lasting solution to the current climate of instability.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK.