567 people have been arrested so far in #FeesMustFall protests

The South African Police Service (SAPS) have confirmed that there have been nearly 600 #FeesMustFall-related arrests over the past eight months.

Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria on Monday, SAPS Lieutenant General Kgomotso Phahlane said, “To date 567 persons have been arrested in 265 cases by now it is well known that 32-year-old Mcebo Dlamini was arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning at Wits. He appeared in a Johannesburg court today [Monday] and the case has been remanded.” Dlamini’s court case continues on Tuesday.

Following the arrests of prominent student leaders such as Wits University’s Dlamini, UCT’s Masixole Mlandu, and UJ’s Neo Malatji, there have been widespread allegations by students that the police are trying to disband and derail the movement by targeting its leadership.

Fasiha Hassan, Wits SRC secretary general, said she was unable to see Dlamini at the Cleveland Police Station when he was arrested on Sunday as she had received information that she and other leaders are being targeted.

“Unfortunately, I can’t be there as we’ve been given the heads-up that they’re targeting us. We have to lay low so I can’t give our location, but we’re trying to ensure that there are no further arrests,” said Hassan.

Hassan also alleged that she had been followed home a couple of times and that student leaders cannot stay at their usual places of residence.

Both SAPS and Wits University deny these allegations vehemently.

“His arrest has led into allegations that the police are specifically targeting student leaders or trying to destabilise the Fees Must Fall initiative: this is untrue,” Phahlane said on Monday, referring to Dlamini’s arrest.

Speaking to EWN, Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel denied allegations by student leadership that the university had handed over a list of students to the police which led to Dlamini’s arrest, stating that this is “categorically untrue.”

The South African Police Services (SAPS) have become a regular feature on universities countrywide following #FeesMustFall action and they are not bowing out anytime soon. But student leaders such as Dlamini are not discouraged either.

Speaking before his court hearing on Tuesday, Dlamini said, “There is no amount of police brutality, solitary confinement, and whatever other methods that might be used to try and silence us and delegitimise us and probably try to attack [our] dignity and integrity, but the call is genuine and the students must continue with the fight. We are here, we seek support and confidence from them.”

Featured image by Yeshiel Panchia