Calls for student leaders, academics to ‘refrain from exacerbating’ volatile conditions

Khomotso Phahlane says students and academics should move towards de-escalating the situation.

SAPS acting National Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane provides an update on the #Fees2017 protests in Pretoria on 10 October 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

PRETORIA - Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane has urged student leaders and academics to refrain from making inflammatory comments which exacerbates the volatile situation on university campuses.

The lieutenant general provided an update on the violent demonstrations which have gripped campuses across the country.

Phahlane says students and academics should move towards de-escalating the situation.

"We make a call to all consent to be responsible and act within the confines of the law. We believe that dialogue takes precedence."

He condemned the violence witnessed on several campuses today.

"There have been running battles between protesting students and police today who've disrupted classes and traffic, pelted police with rocks overturned a vehicle and set property alight."

Phahlane says police will continue to exercise maximum constraint.

The lieutenant general says police officers deployed to Wits University fired rubber bullets only after students started stoning security personnel.

He says when he was at Wits, students attacked security guards who had been blocking their access to the Great Hall.

"If you saw what was happening on that campus, the amount of stones that were pelted at the security personnel with police monitoring the situation from a distance, you would have understood that at a point where the police acted, it was necessary to do so."