Tshwane - A total of 831 people have been arrested in connection with the ongoing #FeesMustFall protests which have rocked universities and other higher education institutions across South Africa, acting National Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane said on Friday.
“The increase [in the number of arrests] can be attributed to the increase in the number of incidents of violent behaviour. Earlier, when the #FeesMustFall protests started, we didn’t have many incidents happening outside the premises of the institutions of higher learning,” Phahlane told reporters at a media briefing in Pretoria.
“The trend [by protesting students] lately is to try and distract the police, move away from the institutions and go on the rampage outside, as it happened in Braamfontein [Johannesburg]. You would have noted the number of vehicles that were torched outside the [Witwatersrand] university.”
Phahlane said the students, of late, frequently protest during the night, leaving a trail of destruction by morning.
He emphasised that not all, of the 831 people arrested since February, are behind bars. Some got released on bail.
“That figure I presented to you is a national figure. We do not, at this stage, have the provincial breakdown. At the opportune moment we will do so.”
Several campuses around the country have experienced violence and unrest since higher education minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement on September 19, that universities should decide on their own fee increases for the 2017 academic year.
Nzimande placed a cap of eight percent on the increases and said they should be transparent and inflation-linked, although poor and the so-called “missing middle” would be exempt from fee increases.
African News Agency