Brute police force against marching students condemned – NEHAWU

SASCO had organised a march to the Presidency at the Union Buildings in Pretoria earlier today

NEHAWU condemns the use of brute force by police against marching students

14 October 2020

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] condemn the use of brute force by the South African Police Services [SAPS] members against marching students.

The South African Students Congress [SASCO] had organised a march to the Presidency at the Union Buildings in Pretoria earlier today to deliver a memorandum of demands on the transformation of Technical and Vocational Education and Training [TVET] Colleges to become institutions of choice for students. However, the police elected to use highhanded tactics to disperse the students who were marching peaceful. More than 10 students were arrested while the rest were dispersed using tear gas. This left many innocent students suffering from severe eye and respiratory pain and skin irritation.

As NEHAWU, we find it abhorrent that in this day of our democracy we still have police that treat peaceful marchers like it is still the dark days of apartheid. The use of brutal force more especially against unarmed and harmless children should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We will write to the Minister of Police to demand answers in this regard. Many sectors of our society have been calling for the training of police officers to receive intensive training on crowd control. We will demand to know from the Minister if such training did indeed take place and what is the impact thereof.

We agree with the Young Communist League of South Africa [YCLSA] that it is both mischievous and disingenuous that police could not act when farmers went on the rampage in Senekal in the Free State because the farmers were armed and dangerous, however, against students who are marching for quality education and are unarmed they attack them without any hesitation.

Furthermore, we condemn the decision by the Presidency not to deploy anyone to come and receive the memorandum of demands. The issues raised by SASCO are important and very urgent and the Presidency should have treated their matter much more seriously and with a sense of urgency.

As a supporter of the National Day of Action we will also support comrades of SASCO who are arrested with bail money and legal representation. Transformation of the higher education sector will happen and no amount of arrests and tear gas will stop it from taking place. We will not stop nor tire until all deserving students especially from working class background have access to post schooling institutions that prepares them for the labour market and to make means to survive.

Issued by Khaya Xaba, National Spokesperson, NEHAWU, 14 October 2020