Seventeen students were arrested at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Soweto campus on Tuesday morning.
Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini told the Daily Vox that 17 students were arrested for blocking people from leaving and entering campus. They will be charged with public violence and may appear in court tomorrow, Dlamini said.
George Kiblor, a student at UJ’s Soweto campus, said that students were arrested along with the SRC leader of the Soweto campus. According to Kiblor, students had gathered outside the main gate of campus to continue with the shutdown on Tuesday morning.
— George Kiblor (@Kiblor) October 4, 2016
Students then went back inside campus to mobilise more students, disrupting classes and encouraging others to join the protest. They then gathered in an open space to sing.
“The purpose of this was to attract a crowd, because of course everyone is singing, everyone is clapping hands and there is a whole commotion. With that attraction of a crowd, there would come people. That’s where a fraction of some of the comrades were arrested,” he said.
A group of students later went to the Kliptown police station to get more information on those who had been arrested. A meeting between students and academics, to plot a way forward, has been scheduled for when the group returns to campus.
Private security, police in the spotlight again
There have also been reports that private security guards and police attacked students on the Soweto campus, went into residences and beat up students on Tuesday afternoon.
A student, who asked to remain anonymous, said that a group of students who had blocked the main road into Soweto campus had been pepper-sprayed and shot with rubber bullets.
The incident comes less than a week after private security guards faced off against students and indiscriminately pepper-sprayed students, media and academics at UJ’s Kingsway campus, after which vice chancellor Ihron Rensburg gave assurances that the head of UJ security would be meeting with the security company about their attacks on students and journalists at UJ campuses.
Police have been deployed to the scene to disperse students.
Herman Esterhuizen, head of media enquiries at UJ, said that the university is still investigating these allegations and will release a statement on the arrested students on Tuesday evening.