Police defend use of force against protesting students

The police say that the use of force was legitimate as students refused to follow instructions.

FILE: A man is dragged into a police van after officers fired rubber bullets at protesting students at Rhodes University on 28 September 2016. Picture: Screebgrab

PRETORIA - Police have defended its use of force against protesting students, saying that they refused to follow instructions.

Officers have been accused of brutality after a video emerged showing members firing rubber bullets at demonstrators at Rhodes University and dragging a student into a van.

While police management initially described footage of officers shooting rubber bullets at students as disturbing, it committed to investigating what led to the confrontation.

The police's Vuyisile Ngesi says that students threw stones and bottles at officers.

"We have warned [them] to disperse but they refused. Instead they increased their attack on police, so we fired the stun grenade first, then rubber bullets."

Watch: Students angry after cops drag peer, fire rubber bullets at Rhodes University

He says the use of force was legitimate.

"It was not an unprovoked attack as people are terming it but it was a necessary act of policing to calm the situation down."

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate says any person who suspects the police of acting unlawfully is entitled to open a case.


President Jacob Zuma and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster are soon expected to announce plans to restore stability to the country's universities which have been rocked by violent protests.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe announced at a post-Cabinet briefing in Pretoria yesterday that Zuma was meeting urgently with the cluster minister to discuss the situation.

Several universities have closed their doors as a result of fees-related protests which have seen violent clashes with the police and private security guards.

Radebe says Zuma has instructed the relevant minister to deal with what Cabinet has termed mayhem that is destroying universities.

"Then at an appropriate time the cluster will be able to brief the nation as to what steps are being taken to bring calm into our institutions of higher learning. We've seen a lot of shut-downs of the universities and so on."

The police have also committed to tackling lawlessness on campuses.