Zuma, Nzimande must help stop 'victimisation' of students - Equal Education

2016-10-19 21:22
Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande

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Cape Town - Equal Education on Wednesday called on President Jacob Zuma and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to help stop the “victimisation” of students arrested during fee protests.

Judge Presidents of all provinces needed to hold an urgent meeting with magistrates to find a way of dealing with the increasing cases coming before them, and for magistrates to not oppose bail, the organisation said in a statement.

Acting national police commissioner lieutenant general Khomotso Phahlane said on Monday that 567 people had been arrested in 265 cases during Fees Must Fall protests in the last eight months.

On Wednesday, Wits student leader Mcebo Dlamini was ordered to stay in police custody after his arrest on Sunday.

He faces five charges, including malicious damage to property, assault and theft. He might lose the funding the Gauteng department of education had granted him, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said.

Phahlane said Dlamini’s arrest led to allegations that police were trying to destabilise protests to demand free higher education by targeting student leaders.

“This is untrue.  The role of the police is to prevent, investigate and combat crime and to maintain stability,” he said.

University of Cape Town student activist Masixole Mlandu would spend the week in Pollsmoor Prison after he was arrested last Wednesday for allegedly contravening a high court order, malicious damage to property, trespassing, and intimidation. He was out on bail at the time for allegedly violating an interdict two weeks earlier.

Equal Education warned that criminalising protests was a step towards an authoritarian state. It felt that black people were being criminalised for protesting to demand what they had been denied for generations.
 
A fresh wave of student protests began on September 19, when Nzimande announced that universities could determine their own fee increases for 2017, up to a maximum of 8%. Students from households earning R600 000 or less per annum, would not have to pay the increase.

Many students rejected this and demanded that tertiary education be completely free.

The advocacy group urged students to exercise caution and restraint and to “remain disciplined and resolute in the face of police brutality”.

It said the State had been at the forefront of persecuting students. It asked for Zuma and Nzimande to show leadership and to intervene in the victimisation of students.

 

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