Par­ents sob for ar­rested kids

Con­cern as protest­ing UWC stu­dents held in Pollsmoor prison

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - YAZEED KAMALDIEN

SOB­BING par­ents of stu­dent pro­test­ers from the Uni­ver­sity of the Western Cape (UWC) gath­ered out­side the Bel­lville Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day.

Their chil­dren had just been sent to Pollsmoor Prison af­ter be­ing ar­rested on Wed­nes­day for al­leged pub­lic vi­o­lence at the cam­pus.

They are part of the # FeesMustFall move­ment de­mand­ing free uni­ver­sity ed­u­ca­tion.

The stu­dents ap­peared briefly in court, were de­nied bail and were told they would be sent to Pollsmoor.

Po­lice would con­tinue their in­ves­ti­ga­tions and the stu­dents are set to ap­pear again in court next Fri­day.

Lun­gelo Wambi, the fa­ther of one of the ar­rested stu­dents, said he was not con­tacted af­ter his son was ar­rested.

“I’m re­ally very frus­trated. There’s not enough in­for­ma­tion about what they did and what’s go­ing on,” said Wambi.

“When I phoned my son in the week, an­other stu­dent picked up his phone. He said my son was ar­rested.”

An­other par­ent, who did not want to be named, was shak­ing and in tears as she ap­proached po­lice of­fi­cers for in­for­ma­tion about her son.

“How can they be moved to Pollsmoor? They did noth­ing. What if they get hurt? With who are they go­ing to be there?” she asked.

Thirty-four stu­dents were ar­rested on Wed­nes­day. Most were charged with pub­lic vi­o­lence in the midst of coun­try­wide protests that have at times turned vi­o­lent.

Only 25 stu­dents ap­peared in court yes­ter­day as the oth­ers had been re­leased with­out charge on Thurs­day.

One of the stu­dents in court yes­ter­day, Ntan­dazo Rondo, was also charged with con­tra­ven­tion of the Ex­plo­sives Act.

His lawyer, Pasika Mh­lana, told Week­end Ar­gus: “He had a petrol bomb and matches.”

Xolani Zekani, one of the stu­dent protest lead­ers, said they were also shocked to hear their peers were be­ing sent to Pollsmoor.

“You can’t ex­pose stu­dents to such a level of bru­tal­ity.

“Send­ing them to Pollsmoor will just put them in more dan­ger,” he said.

“We need sol­i­dar­ity from ev­ery­body. This is war against us.”

Zakani said: “The po­lice started the vi­o­lence (on Wed­nes­day). They knocked down stu­dents’ doors and ar­rested them in their res­i­dences. They shot tear­gas into rooms.

“Stu­dents have never been vi­o­lent.”

Some of the stu­dents who were re­leased on Thurs­day were also at the court yes­ter­day.

They did not want to be in­ter­viewed be­cause “how do we know that you will write what we say?”.

A large group of stu­dents had blocked the court’s en­trance, forc­ing any­body want­ing to en­ter to use the side en­trance.

Some stu­dents wanted to pre­vent pho­tog­ra­phers from tak­ing pictures.

One also tried to stop the Week­end Ar­gus re­porter, say­ing “there are bar­ri­ers”, even though they were protest­ing in a pub­lic space.

UWC said in a state­ment it would “use on­line plat­forms and other modes of learning to as­sist stu­dents in fi­nal­is­ing the aca­demic year in prepa­ra­tion for the fi­nal ex­am­i­na­tions, which can be writ­ten ei­ther in Novem­ber or in Jan­uary 2017”.

“(UWC) coun­cil em­phat­i­cally de­nounces the vi­o­lence, in­ci­dents of ar­son, de­struc­tion and in­tim­i­da­tion, and the con­tin­u­ous dis­rup­tions of the op­er­a­tions of the uni­ver­sity.

“Coun­cil re­grets the frus­tra­tion and trauma that has been ex­pe­ri­enced by stu­dents…

“Coun­cil and man­age­ment sup­port the call for free higher ed­u­ca­tion for the poor and fi­nan­cial mod­els to as­sist the miss­ing mid­dle.

“We urge the state to ex­pe­dite its pro­cesses and pro­vide feed­back to the na­tion on how it plans to ad­dress these is­sues given the crit­i­cal state of af­fairs,” the uni­ver­sity said.

yazeed.kamaldien@inl.co.za

PICTURES: YAZEED KAMALDIEN

#FeesMustFall pro­test­ers out­side the Bel­lville Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day where stu­dents from the Uni­ver­sity of the Western Cape were de­nied bail.

Xolani Zekani

Lun­gelo Wambi

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