Students from the University of Fort Hare who allegedly threw stones at vehicles and the police and damaged property were arrested on Wednesday 26 February at the campus.
Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga said the arrests followed several attempts by the police to advise students to express their grievances peacefully.
“Instead, the angry protesters advanced towards the security at the gate in defiance of the order that they remain inside the campus,” Ntshinga said. “Cars were hurled with stones and traffic flow deliberately blocked thereby inconveniencing motorists.”
Ntshinga said the previous day, a truck carrying foodstuffs had been looted during the protest. Tyres and rubble had been burnt on the road and a state vehicle had been damaged.
“SAPS management in the Eastern Cape has strongly condemned acts of violence by university students and appealed for calm,” said Ntshinga. “The SAPS recognises the constitutional right of students to express their discontent… however, if that right continues to be abused unchecked, the police are obligated to step in and defuse the situation.”
The 11 students aged between 18 and 29 are expected to appear in the Alice Magistrate’s Court today 27 February on charges relating to Public Violence and Violation of the National Road Traffic Amendment Act.
“Other charges may be added as investigations continue,” Ntshinga said.