Dept supports police, security on campuses during protests

2015-11-16 22:21
CPUT student being arrested by police. Picture: Lulama Zenzi

CPUT student being arrested by police. Picture: Lulama Zenzi

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Cape Town - The Department of Higher Education on Monday said it strongly supports the action taken by university managers to employ security teams, and calling the police to protect the majority of students and staff during violent protests.

Department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana in a statement said vice chancellors have a responsibility to protect the lives and ensure the security of all students and staff on their campuses, as well as to protect university property. 

He said the department was “extremely disturbed” by the violent scenes playing out on some university campuses, especially at such an “important point in the academic calendar”.

“The department condemns in the strongest possible terms the violent behaviour of small groups of protesting students who are bent on derailing the academic activities of others and those of the universities.

“Reports of arson, destruction of property and various forms of harassment and intimidation have been circulating over the past week, following the largely peaceful national student protests linked to #FeesMustFall.” 

Nkwanyana said the postponement and cancellation of examinations affected a number of students and may prevent some from being able to complete their degrees, graduate and find jobs. 

“Universities exist for the public good and in a time of scarce resources, the country cannot afford the high costs of damage to existing public institutions,” he said.

“The department rejects the speculation that the prevention of the effects of violence on people and property through engaging SAPS and security companies has led to the escalation of protests. Law enforcement agents are there to keep peace and protect the rights of all South Africans. 

“The department also supports the rights of institutions to engage the courts to secure university campuses from violent actions and intimidation.”

Nkwanyana said the department encouraged vice chancellors and university management teams to “consult widely and implement all forms of communication and engagement with all groupings involved in the protests”.

“The dialogue and engagement on campuses has been intense over this period and in the longer term, will stand universities and their stakeholders in good stead for future communication on campuses.”

Read more on:    police  |  education  |  university fees  |  protests

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