University of Witwatersrand students have accused SAPS of alleged kidnapping after fellow student Arthur Mohamelwa was arrested by police on Sunday in Johannesburg and allegedly driven to Limpopo, where he was abandoned in an open veld.
Student leader Shaeera Kalla said Mahomelwa “was abducted” and left in Limpopo. He had allegedly been stripped naked and tortured, Kalla said outside the Johannesburg Magistrates’ Court, where another student leader, Mcebo Dlamini, had made a brief appearance on Monday.
“He turned up in Limpopo after his arrest and is traumatised. We are facing police brutality; our universities resemble war zones. We are victimised and intimidated … we are going to legally challenge the way we are being treated…our vice-chancellors have handed over campuses to the police,” said the former Wits president.
Mahomelwa sent his friends a text message on Sunday that the police vehicle transporting him had just passed the Nyl tolls plaza and that it was headed to Limpopo.
Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said she was alerted on Sunday night about a student who had disappeared.
“He was apparently located in the early hours of this morning. The matter is being investigated by campus security. The dean of students is working on bringing the student back to campus.”
Police spokesperson Brigadier Sally de Beer told ANA she was sourcing information on Mahomelwa’s arrest from her colleagues and would issue a statement.
NWU students continue with protest action
Protesting students from the North West University (NWU) continued with their protest action on Monday.
They are also demanding free education for all.
The protest, which started on Friday, was, according to students, sparked by lack of response from university management.
The university was recently also forced to go into early recess amid similar protest action. Not far from there, the situation at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) also remained tense on Monday.
At VUT, a maintenance room and part of a block of residences were torched last week allegedly by protesting students demanding that their expelled leaders be brought back.
Student protests that have gripped several universities around the country after an announcement by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande that it was up to universities to determine tuition fee increases.
Wits students protest in Parktown
Students from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) took their protest to the streets of Parktown, blocking roads and burning tyres during peak morning traffic on Monday.
Police fired rubber bullets in an effort to disperse the defiant students. At a nearby Knockando student residence, a standoff between police and protesters ensued.
The Fees Must Fall protesters demanded that a curfew implemented by the university on Friday be lifted, as it restricted their freedom of movement on campus.
Those who do not reside on campus were not allowed entry during curfew times. Students defied the curfew and gathered outside their residences on Sunday night.
Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said students set alight rubbish bins placed on the lawns overnight. Rocks were hurled at buildings, and windows were broken, she said.
“A security guard was assaulted outside the men’s residence and his vehicle’s windows broken. Several campus inroads and those outside the student residences were barricaded, however, they have been cleared this morning. Stun grenades were used to disperse students, no police entered any residences last night.”
The institution said lectures would continue despite protests.
Protesting students were mobilising to go to court and lend support to former Wits Students’ Representative Council (SRC) president Mcebo Dlamini. The 32-year-old was arrested at his student residence room on Sunday for allegedly assaulting a police officer.
Universities push to complete academic year amid protests
Universities plagued by protests are racing against time to get lectures in full swing as final examinations loom amid insistent demands by students for free education.
The Fees Must Fall protest campaign that has been ongoing for weeks has so far resulted in the destruction of property, running battles between police and students and the arrests of protesters.
Undeterred, protesting students who have abandoned lecturers have vowed to fight on until the implementation of free higher education by government.
The Tshwane University of Technology said lectures would continue on Monday despite disruptions that spilled into the city’s streets last week. Several of its students were arrested during the protest.
“The university is resolute to continue with its revised academic programme. If this academic year is lost, it will not only have an extremely adverse effect on the academic futures of the nearly 60 000 students who currently study at the university, but also on new students who want to start their studies at TUT next year, as well as on the economy and our country,” said spokesperson Willa de Ruyter.
“The impact will be devastating should this academic year not be completed successfully.”
Strict measures would remain in place everyday at TUT campuses. Staff and students would only be able to access campuses with their TUT identification cards, she said.
Meanwhile, a TUT student who was shot on the leg with live ammunition by a security guard on Friday was discharged from hospital on Sunday.
Police said the guard was arrested and charged with attempted murder. De Ruyter warned that those who did not abide by the law would be disciplined.
“The university deeply regrets and condemns the shooting incident where a student was injured by a security guard at the Pretoria campus yesterday.
“The university will provide counselling support to the student. While the University respects the right of students to protest, any TUT student disrupting the operations of the university will be dealt with according to the disciplinary code, while cases will be opened against those participating in criminal activities.”
The Witwatersrand University (Wits) implemented strict security measures and a curfew and added it suffered “great losses” as a result of vandalism on campus.
Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib said his institution would ensure that lectures continued to salvage what remained of the 2016 academic year while the university continues to assist in resolving the impasse on higher education funding.
Students reported harassment and being shot at by police with rubber bullets at their residences. They defied the curfew on Sunday night and gathered outside residences to protest the new security measures.
One of the Fess Must Fall leaders, former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini, was expected to appear in the Hillbrow Magistrates’ Court on Monday. The firebrand protest leader was arrested on Sunday for allegedly assaulting a police officer.
Wits student leaders said they were being targeted by the university and the police, and did not feel safe – both authorities have denied the claim.
In the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town’s vice-chancellor Max Price said, with examinations set to commence on November 7, the institution would be open on Monday.
“Council mandated the executive to continue engagements with protesters. The intention is to find a solution that will allow classroom-based activities to be reinstated and to minimise the need for extensive security. I call on all students and staff to support the plan to resume academic activities,” Price said in a statement.
Government over the weekend called on students to cease with violent protests and urged them to respect the law. The upsurge of violence and destruction of property associated with student protests were criminal and unwarranted, government said.
Cops try to contain fresh Wits protests
Police officers had their hands full as they tried to keep fresh protests by some Wits University students under control.
Traffic was also badly affected, as protesting students, near the Donald Gordon Medical Centre, barricaded several roads with burning tyres and rocks. While police fired rubber bullets, protesters also hurled stones.
The protest comes as former Wits student leader Mcebo Dlamini and other students are due to appear in court on Monday morning. Mcebo was arrested in the early hours of Sunday in his residence room.
The arrest has since fuelled anger among protesting students, who have been demanding free education.
The protest, which started at Wits since the announcement by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande that it was up to universities to determine tuition fee increases, has spread to other institutions of higher learning.
The latest arrests have been seen by students as a tactic by government to demobilise the Fees Must Fall movement.
On Sunday, police spokesperson Brigadier Sally de Beer denied claims that the police were trying to demobilise students, adding they were just trying to ensure there was law and order.