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‘Cops will be deployed to universities as long as violence continues’

Khomotso Phahlane says police would have no reason to be deployed to universities where there is stability.

Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane listens to questions during an update on the #Fees2017 protests in Pretoria on 10 October 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien

PRETORIA - Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane says for as long as there is violence and intimidation on university campuses, officers will remain deployed to enforce the law.

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

Phahlane says the police would have no reason to be deployed to universities where there is stability, order and where classes aren't being disrupted.

"As long as there's an element of violence, there's an element of public disorder and the police will present themselves and will continue to monitor the situation."

He says officers will exercise maximum restraint.

"We continue to be talking to our members on an ongoing basis to avoid a situation where there's recklessness or irresponsible conduct on our part."

Phahlane says the situation should be settled through negotiations.

URGES STUDENTS TO REFRAIN FROM INFLAMMATORY COMMENTS

At the same time, Phahlane has urged student leaders and academics to refrain from making inflammatory comments which exacerbate the volatile situation on university campuses.

He said 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 yesterday.

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

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

He said 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."