Poverty no excuse for violence, ANC tells protesting students
The ANC in Gauteng has condemned the violent acts at university campuses across the country by students protesting against a lack of higher education funding.
"The issue we will not accept is that because 'I am poor I must be violent'," ANC Gauteng secretary Hope Papo told reporters in Pretoria on Sunday.
Papo, the ANC's alliance partners as well as trade union Solidarity and civil organisation Afriforum had gathered to discuss the situation at the University of Pretoria (UP) as well as other higher education campuses in the province.
The organisations condemned the violent action that had taken place at the campuses and called for the UP to resume its classes on Monday.
Papo said the extent of violence taking place on campuses across the country could not be allowed to continue.
"We cannot allow that thing to be normalised, it cannot be that you can do as you like and there won't be consequences. There has to be consequences for violence, there has to be consequences for intimidation."
He called on universities to open criminal charges against any individual who incited violence on its premises.
"Anybody who incites violence, the university must open a charge of incitement against that person and the police must act because we can't live in a country where people threaten each other on a daily basis and nothing happens, there are no consequences."
Groups of students at the university have clashed over opposing viewpoints on the university's language policy with the Economic Freedom Fighters' Student Command (EFF SC) body saying it would not let the university open again until things had changed.
Black students also complained that the environment is racist for them.
A language policy task team proposed that English be the primary language of instruction in all lectures, that it promote multilingualism to build social cohesion and that Afrikaans and Sepedi be used as additional support to students in tutorials, practicals and discussions, but the meeting was postponed.
Twenty seven people were arrested for public violence the week before last.
Charges against three were dropped and 24 were expected to stand trial. Their case was postponed to April 7, but the university had remained closed.
On Sunday, Papo said those leading the different movements on the campuses needed to exercise responsible leadership.
Giving an example of what he thought responsible leadership was, Papo told reporters that on the day that SA Communist Party leader Chris Hani was killed, a meeting was held by senior ANC leaders to discuss how to manage the situation that could have led to a civil war in the country.
"It required brave and responsible leadership not to plunge the country into a civil war," he said.
"It was the decision of the NEC that we will not allow our country to plunge into a civil war because two or three individuals decided to kill a very prominent leader in our country.
"I wonder, if some of these people who are calling for racial polarisation, were in that stage in leadership positions, what would they have told the country in that moment?" Papo asked.
Source News 24