SA de­clares zero tol­er­ance on #FeesMustFall demos

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

CON­VINCED that uni­ver­sity stu­dents are be­ing in­flu­enced by “regime change agents”, gov­ern­ment has in­structed the po­lice to act in an “un­com­pro­mis­ing way” to en­force the law if protests con­tinue.

Ac­cord­ing to feed­back given to se­nior se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma told min­is­ters in a meet­ing, held on Thurs­day, that there was an ur­gent need to bring the vi­o­lence un­der con­trol.

Zuma said this was nec­es­sary be­fore the aca­demic year came to an end to avoid a far worse se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion at the be­gin­ning of next year.

Such a sce­nario would see new ma­tric­u­lants strug­gle to se­cure ad­mis­sion space if cur­rent firstyear stu­dents did not write their ex­ams and, as a re­sult, would have to re­peat classes.

Uni­ver­si­ties South Africa, the or­gan­i­sa­tion rep­re­sent­ing the coun­try’s ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions, this week said the dam­age to uni­ver­si­ties was cur­rently run­ning at more than R600m.

Ac­cord­ing to the min­utes of Thurs­day’s meet­ing, in terms of the new se­cu­rity plan, po­lice were ex­pected to “en­force the laws of the coun­try in an un­com­pro­mis­ing man­ner” – and “the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem should cre­ate strong ex­am­ples of how the law deals with peo­ple who ven­ture into acts of van­dal­ism, in­tim­i­da­tion and vi­o­lence”.

The se­cu­rity di­rec­tive goes on to state: “Ev­i­dence should be gath­ered in a man­ner that links spe­cific in­di­vid­u­als to spe­cific trans­gres­sions for ease of pros­e­cu­tion.”

Gov­ern­ment is set to es­tab­lish a mul­ti­provin­cial po­lice task force to deal more ef­fec­tively with the protests.

State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo told a me­dia brief­ing, held on Fri­day, that in the case of hard ev­i­dence, those in­volved in vi­o­lence should re­ceive a “max­i­mum sen­tence” in terms of the law.

“Be­cause if we do not do that, this kind of law­less­ness is go­ing to con­tinue. Th­ese in­di­vid­u­als are very few, [so] they can­not con­tinue to in­tim­i­date our peo­ple,” he said.

Mahlobo added that stu­dent lead­ers were try­ing to ex­er­cise lead­er­ship, but there were “other peo­ple” in­tro­duc­ing the vi­o­lence. “There is an ag­i­ta­tion and provo­ca­tion of the po­lice there.”

A com­pre­hen­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tion strat­egy would also be de­vel­oped and “specif­i­cally take the pro­pa­ganda war to the so­cial me­dia space”.

On Fri­day, a se­ries of meet­ings were held at the Protea Ho­tel at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port, at­tended by di­rec­tors-gen­eral in the se­cu­rity clus­ter, pub­lic or­der po­lice of­fi­cials, stu­dents’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives coun­cil (SRC) pres­i­dents and sec­re­taries, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing and se­cu­rity clus­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tors.

At Fri­day’s me­dia brief­ing, fol­low­ing the marathon of meet­ings, the min­is­ters — in­clud­ing Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko, Mahlobo, Jus­tice and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices Min­is­ter Michael Ma­sutha and Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­made — pre­sented a joint state­ment with stu­dent lead­ers, de­tail­ing how they planned to re­store sta­bil­ity to ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

How­ever, some of the stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives at­tend­ing the meet­ings openly dis­agreed with the state­ment and de­scribed the pro­ceed­ings as “a waste of time”.

Oth­ers said the min­is­ters had made “sub­tle threats” dur­ing the dis­cus­sions.

At the meet­ing Nz­i­mande was quoted as say­ing what had “started as a pro­gres­sive cam­paign – as #FeesMustFall — has now be­come coun­ter­rev­o­lu­tion­ary”.

Mahlobo told stu­dents who at­tended the meet­ing that there were peo­ple work­ing hard to “hi­jack your is­sues as young peo­ple.

“We need to be able to clamp down. Aca­demics who are try­ing to pre­tend they are ad­vis­ing or men­tor­ing out­side the elected struc­tures of the SRC are try­ing to mo­bilise and men­tor peo­ple for other in­ter­ests,” he said. — Sapa

Ja­cob Zuma

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