Stone throwing, burning property not the solution - Phahlane tells #FeesMustFall protesters

2016-10-04 20:04
Protesters at Wits University (File)

Protesters at Wits University (File) (Lizeka Tandwa)

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Watch the moment police open fire on gathered Wits students

2016-10-04 13:44

Stun grenades and tear gas have been used to disperse gathered students at Wits, some of whom have been detained.WATCH

Johannesburg – Gauteng police rejected claims they were bloodthirsty when they clashed with students during the #FeesMustFall protest at Wits University, Acting National Commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane said on Tuesday.

“The SAPS rejects utterances that claim it is bloodthirsty and wants another Marikana,” Phahlane told reporters in Johannesburg.

“Throwing stones and firing rubber bullets cannot in any way be seen as a solution. We know there is provocation of police but we will exercise maximum restraint at all times. Ordinarily we would not be called into Fees Must Fall if dialogue was happening normally,” he said.

He said they had directed that senior management take control of the (actions) under the banner Fees Must Fall.

Phahlane added that during a meeting with police they emphasised that officers exercise maximum restraint but also perform their duties within the bounds of the law.

He also called for students to refrain from making inflammatory remarks.

“We have to address key responsibilities to preventing crime. The SAPS will be deployed to any area where the law is being broken."

Stones thrown, rubber bullets fired

Destruction of property could not be tolerated and was not a “clever” way of students expressing their frustrations for fees to fall, he said.

Phahlane also called women baring their breasts "immoral", saying it was a chargeable crime of public indecency.  

Students and police clashed as Wits University reopened its doors on Tuesday, with 17 students being arrested.

Police fired rubber bullets and teargas at students after they attempted to break a police chain. Some students then threw stones at officers.

International relations lecturer David Hornsby was injured during the protests. Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said it appeared he was outside with the protesters. He had a bandage on his head, but she did not know the extent of his injuries.

Police officers open case of assault

Protesters broke the back window of a police vehicle. According to well-placed sources within the emergency medical service, casualties include both police officers and protesters.

A police officer was brought to the emergency room at Milpark Hospital. The sources told News24 that a high-ranking police officer sustained a serious head wound when he was struck by a brick.

Two other officers were also injured in the melee. Ten others, understood to be students, were rushed to hospital.

News24 understands that police officers have opened a case of assault. Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Student protesters shut down a number of campuses nationwide as they called for free education following an announcement by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that fees would increase next year but be capped at 8%.

“Police resources are being stretched. The rubber bullets, the teargas, the large numbers all cost tax payer’s money which could be directed to much more serious things.

“Police will not stand and clap hands when someone is throwing stones at them. But will still maintain max restraint. Part of police mandate is to protect life and damage to property,” said Phahlane.  

The deputy national commissioner was expected to oversee the protest matter, he said.

He also condemned the throwing of stones and burning of building. He said the police had been reasonable in their approach.

He warned that students who were caught arrested also risk having a criminal record.

Read more on:    police  |  wits university  |  johannesburg  |  university fees  |  university protests

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