Wits chaos: Violence and destruction must result in arrests and prosecution
10 October 2016
The destruction and violence witnessed at the University of the Witwatersrand today, which spilled into the City, and saw a bus set alight, must result in those individuals who broke the law being arrested, so that they can answer for their conduct fairly before a court of law.
The DA is deeply angered by the conduct of some students at the University today. Despite dedicated areas being provided for peaceful and lawful protests, further attempts to shut-down the campus, and use violence to do so, was evident. This deserves strong condemnation.
The DA has been clear in our support for the constitutional right to peacefully protest. But this cannot infringe on the rights of others, nor can it be exercised violently – going against the very spirit of a constitutional democracy.
We have recommended that the SAPS establish a specialised task unit to ensure that such conduct is appropriately handled, balancing both the right to protest and the principle of the rule of law. This would allow for evidence to be gathered against those specific students who have used violence, destruction and intimidation while protesting, so that they can be held accountable through our criminal justice system.
There is no doubt that there is a serious funding crisis facing our Universities. Our position is clear: no person should be denied an education because they cannot afford it. But fighting for this in a way that puts the lives of others at risk, and in doing so, threatening to destroy higher education in South Africa completely, cannot be tolerated.
Statement issued by Prof Belinda Bozzoli MP, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education and Training, 10 October 2016