Police

SAPS reiterates call for calm and responsible actions #FeesMustFall

The South African Police Service continues to monitor activities and protest actions carried out under the #FeesMustFall banner at universities and we are operationally ready to police these actions.

As you are aware, the majority of universities are currently closed and in general the situation was calm across most campuses, including those that are open, during the course of the day today. We commend the positive response and engagement by all role players including the majority for heeding the calls for restraint, peace and stability from all quarters across the nation.

We continue to experience sporadic incidents of public disorder and violence which deserve to be condemned and discouraged by all of us. Over the past two days a few incidents which are of concern to the SAPS have been recorded.

Yesterday at the University of Witwatersrand there were clashes between groups with opposing views on the closure and the opening of the university. The South African Police Service managed to keep the groups away from each other thereby avoiding the eruption of violence and public disorder. Incidents of disruption of classes have been recorded including the incident where two women at Kingsway today received medical treatment after two males entered and discharged the contents of a fire extinguisher. This kind of behaviour, including any form of intimidation, is strongly condemned. Such conduct of a criminal nature will be investigated and those responsible will be brought to book and processed through the criminal justice system of our country. Those who wish to protest peacefully must be free to do so and the same applies to those who want to attend class and complete the academic year.

In KwaZulu-Natal, at about 07:00 this morning, security guards found 12 petrol bombs and two 5 litre cans of petrol in a vacant garage on a university residence in Pietermaritzburg. We are busy conducting an investigation. What is obviously of concern is that this is a clear indication that certain elements are not interested in protesting peacefully and still have an agenda to destroy property and commit acts of violence.

In the Western Cape, protests have been without violence, but the incidents of throwing human faeces at vehicles and in the lecture halls is considered inappropriate and demeaning to all concerned.

The SAPS will continue to monitor the situation at universities with a view to ensuring a peaceful environment conducive to learning. In Gauteng, senior police officials led by Lieutenant General Gary Kruser have met with university management at all campuses. A joint security plan has been agreed on and we urge all role players, including religious and community leaders, students and parents to support government’s efforts to maintain peace, safety, security and stability.

Investigations into arson cases are at an advanced stage and I can confidently state that arrests are imminent. SAPS members will arrest those who break the law and they will accordingly be prosecuted. Young people are discouraged from making themselves guilty of any offence which will possibly have far-reaching implications on their future and employment opportunities since a criminal record will undoubtedly be a hindrance to them in their future endeavours.

We have noted with concern information at our disposal which suggests that the #FeesMustFall initiative has been infiltrated by forces with agendas not aligned with those who seek free education to advance themselves. The agenda of those with ulterior motives is to provoke the police to the point where there are fatalities attempting to create another Marikana. This and other information at our disposal is being followed up and those involved will be dealt with accordingly. The SAPS will continue to exercise maximum restraint and manage the attacks and provocation within the confines of the law, the proportional use of force will characterise the work of the police. We will endeavour to protect lives and property in accordance with our Constitutional mandate.

It is evident that criminality and criminal elements have taken advantage of the young people in the universities under the disguise of supporting the #FeesMustFall initiative. In Soweto at the University of Johannesburg campus, drugs were confiscated and students were arrested. At Rhodes University, hundreds of syringes were scattered across a public road. This cannot be considered peaceful protests and to be falling within the ambit of a good cause for fees to fall.

The majority of the institutions will re-open for classes in the coming week. We call upon parents, community and religious leaders and all structures of our society to guide the young people and support them in ensuring that they continue with their studies. These young people remain the leaders of tomorrow and we cannot afford to breed a violent generation which our country does not deserve. We once again call upon all students and student leaders to maintain calm and to act lawfully without destroying property or intimidating others.

Members of the South African Police Service and all law enforcement agencies who are actively engaged in policing the #FeesMustFall protest are commended for their behaviour and for exercising maximum restraint throughout their policing of protests and those whose conduct leaves much to be desired. It is during trying times like these that members are reminded of the oath of office and the Code of Conduct which demands from us to serve our people with integrity, honesty, respect and without fear or favour. No amount of attack, insults or emotions must generate behaviour unbecoming of any one of us. We will remain loyal, committed and dedicated to the Constitution and execution of our mandate.

We remind our members to allow the media to do their work freely and we again sympathise with those who have been injured.

We still believe that dialogue is the key to finding a solution agreeable to all. We call upon society at large to contribute towards finding an ever-lasting solution to the #FeesMustFall outcry, without engaging in public disorder and/or violence.