President Jacob Zuma has frowned at the recent violent incidents that led to the destruction of property at several universities across the country. This was contained in a statement released on Thursday.
“The burning of university buildings at a time when we are prioritizing the education of our youth is inexplicable and can never be condoned. No amount of anger should drive students to burn their own university and deny themselves and others education. Grievances should be handled in a peaceful manner.
“The Constitution of the Republic states that everyone has the right‚ peacefully and unarmed‚ to assemble‚ to demonstrate‚ to picket and to present petitions. Protestors should adhere to the Constitution when undertaking protest action‚’’ Zuma said.
He also pleaded with the protesters to desist from such acts and learn to express their grievances within the fringes of the law and the Constitution. He also condemned the destruction of property on several university campuses‚ including the North West University‚ University of Free State‚ University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town and the torching of a Metrorail train in Pretoria.
The statement further revealed the president’s condemnation on attacks on train drivers as reported by Metrorail.
“The drivers must be left alone to do their work unhindered. If trains arrive late‚ people should report the matter to the correct channels. The torching of trains and destruction of facilities is completely unacceptable and is a serious criminal act‚” Zuma said.
He added that university authorities have been told to cushion the grievances of students. He promised that government would also live up to its expectation in ensuring a peaceful academic atmosphere. Also, law enforcement agencies have been instructed to tirelessly carry out their duties and ensure every criminal activity is properly dealt with.
On Wednesday night, protesting students at the North West University Mahikeng campus set fire to the varsity’s science building while the Student Representative Council inauguration ceremony was going on.
Responding to the ugly development, University spokesperson Koos Degenaar said, “I can confirm that there is only about three buildings that have been set alight. We have not established what the damage is at this stage, but it must be millions of rands.”
She alleged that a group of students, believed to be Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members, messed up the Student Representative Council inauguration ceremony and added that no arrests have been made.
On Monday, violent scenes broke out at the University of the Free State between spectators and protesters during a Varsity Cup rugby match. The game between UFS and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).
The University of the Free State was forced to suspend classes for the next two days and launched an urgent investigation following a tussle between Outsourcing Must Fall protesters and spectators at the game last. The protesters had demanded an end to outsourced employment of cleaners at the institution.