Zuma expressed concern over violent student protests

African News Agency (ANA)

Zuma expressed concern over violent student protests
Violent student protests in South Africa. #FeesMustFall. Photo: Supplied

President Jacob Zuma expressed serious concern over the escalating violence in the #FeesMustFall movement at universities across the country, the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) said on Friday.

“Government recognises the legitimacy of the issues raised by students with regards to access and provision of free quality education. However, in pursuit of this noble undertaking, the JCPS Cluster wishes to emphasise that acts of violence, intimidation and destruction of property will not be tolerated,” the JCPS cluster said in a statement.

“We appeal to the leadership of students, parents and all stakeholders to work together with government to dissuade students from committing acts of criminality that may result in criminal records which may jeopardise their future prospects. Fellow South Africans, the JCPS genuinely believes that the challenges that confront our society in the wake of the “Fees Must Fall” protests, do not in any way diminish our collective responsibility towards the safety and security of one another.”

Zuma met with the ministers from the JCPS on Thursday, to reflect on the issues raised by the students’ protest for free higher education fro all.

University campuses have been rocked by protests since last year as students continue to demand free higher education. An announcement by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that fee increases for 2017 would be capped at eight percent brought another wave of protests as students demanded no fee increases until government implemented free higher education.

Lectures have been suspended at most universities as the unrest continued.

In the statement released on Friday, JCPS said it held an engagement with student leadership from various universities in an on going process of engagements with stakeholders in the education sector and other relevant role players in an attempt to find a solution to the “challenge”.

“The President expressed serious concern at the escalation of violence, destruction of property and a general state of lawlessness and public disorder that has characterised the “Fees Must Fall” protests in a number of institutions of higher learning in the country,” the statement read.

“Government recognises and respects the right to freedom of expression, we would however, like to warn all protesters that section 16(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa does not extend this right to incitement of imminent violence.

“We urge members of the Police to always act with maximum restraint and ensure that their conduct is always beyond reproach. We equally appeal to the students to work with our law enforcement in ensuring that these protests are peaceful.”

The cluster said that the national police leadership engaged with provincial police commissioners to “firm up” plans to secure the protests, public and private property, students and members of the public.

South Africa Today – South Africa News

SOURCEAfrican News Agency (ANA)