The UCT Black Academic Caucus (BAC) strongly condemns the university's decision to use police action in enforcing its court order against various student movements on campus last night (19 October 2015). BAC also condemns the arrest of student activists.
Students offered no resistance and complied with police instructions upon their arrest, but SAPS did not to leave Bremner immediately after arresting activists. Instead, the police hippo containing activists who had occupied Mafeje, as well as others who were seated outside, actually made a U-turn just as it was about to make its exit. It then returned to the mass of singing students who were left behind, repeatedly driving into the crowd, and came to a stand still for quite some time as singing students gathered around. There was no clear reason why SAPS turned around.
The shots that SAPS fired were therefore unprovoked. Students in Mafeje also reported that teargas was fired at them before they made their exit. Police officers also stepped on some students sitting on the steps and assaulted others as arrests were made. Members of BAC and other staff who were outside Bremner were informed by SAPS that management ordered them to use force on students, including rubber bullets and teargas. This use of force and lack of engagement with activists contradicts the efforts to build a cohesive space for dialogue on campus. BAC would like to know who authorised the excessive use of force and how the university views this in relation to the ongoing transformation project that it has expressed commitment towards.
Issued by BAC on 20 October 2015.
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