Students take to streets in week-long protests

Oily black smoke from burning tyre barricades smudged the horizon over Mitchells Plain this week as Cape students took to the streets in a week-long protest geared to dovetail with nationwide protests. In widespread action at schools in Mitchell’s Plain, Bonteheuwel, Bellville South, Belhar, Manenberg and Athlone, students staged protest marches and rallies. At least nine students were said to have been arrested yesterday after police took action against Mitchells Plain students attempting to hold a rally at one of the township’s high schools. Teargas canisters arced across the skyline and blazing barricades spewed smoke as police and students played what appeared to be a cat-and-mouse game. 

In Bonteheuwel yesterday, police at Arcadia Senior Secondary School. In Manenberg on Wednesday, hundreds of pupils from three schools in the area staged a march through the township, bearing placards calling for ”Mass action for people’s power” and decrying high rents and evictions in the poverty-stricken township. Police monitored the march but took no action, witnesses said. Also on Wednesday, Mitchells Plain students converged on the township’s business centre and staged a placard demonstration. Police ordered them to disperse and teargas was later fired. At least three students were arrested during the incident and told they faced public violence charges. 

However, they were later released shortly before an urgent application for bail was brought to court on their behalf, a Mitchells Plain attorney confirmed. The five-day protest action took place in response to a call from the restricted Western Cape Students’ Congress (Wecsco). Sources said the action was intended to dovetail with the national defiance campaign announced this week Students were responding to a number of issues, the source said, including the crisis in education, the restriction of Wecsco and the September general elections. The liaison officer for the Department of Education and Culture in the (coloured) House for Representatives, which administers the schools, could not be reached for comment. 

  • captain R Bloomberg of the police public relations division in Pretoria referred the Weekly Mail to the SAP’s daily unrest reports for comment on various incidents in the Peninsula. No incidents in the Peninsula were cited.

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.


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