An administration building at the North West University was completely destroyed, along with all official records. Picture: @equal_education/Twitter

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma on Thursday condemned violent protests and destruction of property at state universities and called on South Africa’s security agencies to “work round the clock” to arrest those involved in such crimes.

In a statement issued by the Presidency, Zuma “strongly condemned” recent incidents of violence and the destruction of property on several campuses of higher education including the North West University, University of Free State, University of Pretoria, the University of Cape Town as well as the torching of a Metrorail train in Pretoria.

“The President has strongly appealed to protestors to act with utmost restraint and express their grievances within the confines of the law and our Constitution,” said the Presidency.

“The burning of university buildings at a time when we are prioritising 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,’’ said the President.

Zuma has also condemned the attacks on train drivers that has been 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,” said Zuma.

The President has directed the university authorities to attend to the grievances of students. Government will also play its role.

Zuma has directed the law enforcement agencies to work around the clock and not rest until those who engage in criminal activity are brought to book.