Protesting University of Fort Hare students are accusing the management of sending police to them “instead of resolving our issues”.
This comes after police arrested more than 60 students last night as the protest by East London campus students enters its ninth day this morning.
Campus premier Sonwabiso Mamkeli said they were disappointed with the approach of the university on the matter. “They are making things very difficult and that is why students do not get it. This is just a simple request .. of being addressed by their father.“
Mamkeli said they had set the meetings with the students, “and they had said it’s enough now that the SRC has been coming to us with nothing”.
“It’s time the VC addresses them on their issues which were in a form of a memorandum. But he refused to address the students,” he said.
He said that was their duty as the SRC to communicate with the students, “but we made it clear that students do not want to be addressed by us and they demanded him,” he said.
Mamkeli said, in its attempt to normalise the situation, the management was working with the police to arrest all student leaders, “as if we instructed students to embark on the protest. We have no powers to do that, we are just student leaders”.
Students allege that deputy vice-chancellor – institutional support professor Gilingwe Mayende — was helping police identify SRC members.
Campus secretary Dineo Selemela was among those arrested.
Mamkeli said he was watching the police chased after her to the Embassy Court residence, “but I was stationed in another place. I was informed they will arrest all SRC as a means to dissolve what is happening and students go to class after”.
“They were calling Dineo by name when they grabbed her and they even went to my residence and asked students but I was not there,” he said.
Speaking to the Dispatch from the back of the police van, Selemela said she was walking to the Embassy Court residence with other students when they saw armed police chasing after them.
“We all ran, but they only arrested me,” she said.
Mamkeli said what was not making sense was how the vice–chancellor agreed that the issues students were raising were legitimate, but refused to come and commit to students.
Police spokesperson was not immediately available to confirm the exact number of arrested students, what charges they are facing and when they will appear in court.
A student was rushed to hospital last night after police used teargas inside Elwandle residence. Mellisa van Rooyen of Dynamics Ambulance said the female student had inhaled excessive teargas and had problems with breathing.
“She did not have physical injures. She was treated and discharged,” Van Rooyen said.