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President Zuma calls for calm, restraint at SA campuses

Jacob Zuma says protesters should at all times adhere to the Constitution when undertaking protest action.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Presidency has released a statement in which President Jacob Zuma calls for calm and restraint at all higher education institution campuses in the country.

This follows weeks of protests at university campuses after an announcement by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande that it would be left to universities to decide the 2017 fee hike - but capped increases at eight percent.

Zuma has reiterated that all citizens have the right to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions, peacefully and unarmed.

He says protesters should at all times adhere to the Constitution when undertaking protests.

"We urge the students to exercise this right in a responsible manner. They must respect law enforcement officers. They must also respect the rights of others who are not taking part in the protests. We have also directed members of the South African Police Service to act strictly within the confines of the law and the Constitution as they discharge their duties of ensuring the safety and security of all as well as protecting lives and property."

Zuma has also extended his condolences to the family of Celumusa Ntuli, the Wits University worker who tragically died this week after inhaling fumes from a fire extinguisher that had been released during a protest.

The president has reaffirmed the commitment of government to support access to education for all, including the children of the poor and the working class.

Zuma has also urged university management, parents, students and all stakeholders in communities to work with government to find solutions peacefully and constructively.

ZUMA URGES AUTHORITIES TO DEAL WITH THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR PROTEST VIOLENCE

At the same time, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says Zuma has urged the authorities to deal with those responsible for the ongoing violent and destructive student protests at some of the country's universities.

Radebe is speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing in Pretoria today.

The police have been accused acting with a heavy hand, and in some cases brutality, when demonstrations turn violent.

The minister says Zuma will today meet with the justice, crime prevention and security cluster of ministers to discuss the ongoing university protests.

"President Zuma has instructed the justice, crime prevention and security cluster of ministers to deal with this mayhem that is destroying our institutions of higher learning."

Radebe says those engaged in criminal activity will be brought to book.

"Law enforcement agencies who are working within the confines of the law, will leave no stone unturned in finding those responsible for the criminal activities that have been witnessed."

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