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City students arrested during protest

Students from Phatsimang College in front of the Kagisho police station, after the police allegedly assaulted two students during a protest. The two students went to the police station to open charges against the police members. Picture: Danie van der Lith

The police dispersed the protesting college students after they started burning tyres and obstructing traffic.

STUDENTS at Phatsimang College in Galeshewe took to the streets on Thursday as they demanded answers regarding exam results that were still pending.

The protesting students were dispersed by the police after they started burning tyres and obstructing traffic.

Two students were arrested for public violence and intimidation.

Police spokesperson Captain Bashoabile Kale said the Public Order Police (POP) responded to a “riotous” situation at Phatsimang College, where students were toyi-toying and burning tyres at the entrance to the campus.

He added that the police had tried to “hear the leaders of the protest out”, but it proved impossible because of the disruptive behaviour of a number of students.

“Instigators were identified by the police and the police attempted to arrest them,” said Kale. “Two identified instigators evaded arrest by breaking loose from the police and fled into the protesting crowd.”

Kale said that a stun grenade was fired in an attempt to disperse the protesters.

“The police followed through with the initial arrest and arrested the two previously identified suspects for public violence and intimidation.

“The two arrested males, aged 21 and 23 years old, also registered a counter case, alleging that the police assaulted them. A case of common assault has been registered against POP members.

“The docket of common assault will be transferred to IPID (the Independent Police Investigative Directorate) for further investigation.”

Following the arrests of the two students, a group of approximately 30 students made their way to the Kagisho police station to support their fellow students, before proceeding to the Galeshewe police station to demand answers regarding the arrests.

The students said that they had resorted to protest action as they were frustrated at being unable to register for the next level of their studies due to results that were still pending.

The students were adamant that they were never violent and only “picketed” and burnt tyres in front of the campus.

They added that college management had dismissed them on Wednesday when they raised questions around the issue.

According to the students, they wanted answers with regards to their pending results for a course module, which was “blocking” them from progressing from N4 to N5.

They said that modules had been changed, where the computer module was scrapped and replaced with an economics module.

“We did not have a problem with that. We thought it would not be a problem as long as we had four modules, which are funded by NSFAS. We wrote the exams and after that we learnt that the economics results are pending. When we tried to get answers we learnt that the economics module was not registered, but instead the computer module, which the college had already scrapped,” the students said.

They said they were frustrated because they were running out of time to register for N5, which closes on Friday. They fear that they might be required to repeat N4 due to being a module short.

“We are not allowed to carry one module over to N5 so we have to wait for those results. It is already bad enough that the computer module was cancelled without any consultation with the students, and considering that it is crucial in the job market.”

The students said there was a planned engagement with college management that was supposed to take place on Wednesday, but it was called off after management reportedly accused the EFF student command, which represented the students, of not being affiliated.

“We want answers but the college is messing with our future by using excuses not to provide those answers.

“Management tried to intimidate us with the police and produced an interdict that was used against students who protested back in 2019. We were not part of that protest and we are not even fighting for the same demands.”

Attempts to get comment from the college were unsuccessful.

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