23 CUT students released on a warning

2016-09-28 19:32
Central University of Technology

Central University of Technology

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Bloemfontein – Twenty-three Central University of Technology students, arrested on charges of malicious damage to property, illegal gathering and public violence were released on a warning by the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.  

The students were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning during a protest. Some of the students wept as they entered the court gallery on Wednesday afternoon.   

During their appearance, State prosecutor Johan de Vries requested that the students be kept in custody until October 5 pending confirmation of their residential addresses.

"We don't have confirmed addresses of the students. They gave us addresses of CUT residences and some gave PO Box addresses," De Vries said. 

He also argued that one of the accused was not a registered student. 

However, Magistrate Monde Matshaya refused to remand the matter. He said the State did not handle the matter with diligence.

Property vandalised

"The fears of the State are speculative and lack any factual basis. Nothing was done by the State to verify their addresses," said Matshaya.

The group of about 300 students marched on Markgraff Street in Bloemfontein and vandalised road signs and municipal bins at 02:00 on Tuesday, said police spokesperson Captain Chaka Marope.

"They also broke windows of a government vehicle with bricks," he said.

"Police found the group of students gathered at the SABC offices. Police asked them to disperse and when they refused police used stun grenades."

On Monday, the university announced that academic activities would be suspended until October 10 due to security concerns.

"All academic activities for Central University of Technology have been suspended at both the Bloemfontein and Welkom campuses with effect from 12:00 until October 10, due to security concerns on campus at this stage," CUT spokesperson Dan Maritz said in a statement.

Maritz said the institution had made its decision after a meeting between student leaders and management "failed to effectively address the current challenges and implications of the statement by the Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande for the universities in 2017".

University urged to reconsider

"The meeting served as a continuation of previous meetings which were held with student leaders to find solutions to the current fees must fall debacle, most importantly, our commitment to constructive engagements with our students," he said.

He added that the university was hopeful that the academic programme would resume after the extended recess, which had been scheduled to begin on September 29.

Students were given until Tuesday at 12:00 to vacate the institution.

Meanwhile, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it had been approached by several students who stayed at the affected campus residences.

Free State SAHRC manager Buang Jones said students were shocked by the eviction notice from the university.

"Most students face the prospect of being put out in the street in the event that they [are] forced to leave the residences. Some students neither have money for transport to go home, nor to pay for alternative accommodation.

The commission urged the university to consider the personal circumstances of the students and allow those from far-flung areas to remain at the university residences until Friday. 

Read more on:    sahrc  |  bloemfontein  |  university fees

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