Criminals undermining real student grievances - Radebe

Cape Town - Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe on Thursday called on students to stop being misled by “criminal elements”.

Government recognised the struggles that young people encountered as they tried to educate themselves, he told reporters following Cabinet’s fortnightly meeting.

He, however, condemned the continuing destruction of property during the protests against university fee increases. Government was concerned about the resurgence of violent protests at some institutions of higher learning.

Earlier this month, part of a law library at the University of KwaZulu-Natal was damaged by fire.

“Those are criminal activities. I do not believe that genuine students would go to the extent of burning a library. Those books are irreplaceable. Why would someone do something like that?”

Students’ genuine grievances were being undermined and institutions destroyed by “criminal activities”.

“We are calling upon students to desist being misled by criminal elements that destroy property.”

On the possible fee hike for 2017, Radebe said the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training should be given a chance to complete its work. It was holding public hearings and investigating the feasibility of free tertiary education.

He asked for patience until Ministers Pravin Gordhan and Blade Nzimande made an announcement.

Illegal miners

Radebe said Cabinet regretted the deaths of two illegal miners in Langlaagte, Johannesburg.  

“These fatalities highlight the dangers of illicit mining,” he said.

The Mineral Resources Department was working with law enforcement agencies to ensure the perpetrators, specifically the ringleaders, were brought to book.

Cabinet welcomed the release of crime statistics on September 2.

“While the progress made by SAPS in bringing down the levels of certain crimes is applauded, there remains concern over the increase of violent crime, especially murder,” Radebe said.

He reiterated calls for South Africans to save water.

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