Parents sob for arrested kids
Concern as protesting UWC students held in Pollsmoor prison
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.
#FeesMustFall protesters outside the Bellville Magistrate’s Court yesterday where students from the University of the Western Cape were denied bail.