Police have now left the Steve Bantu Biko Building on Rhodes Campus after being called in on Sunday night. According to Col Nel of the Grahamstown police service they were called to break up a peaceful occupation of the SRC offices that started almost two weeks ago. Police claim the occupation is in contravention of the interdict management has against protesting students.
However Police could not explain on the scene what activity was deemed unlawful and left.
A status on the university UCKAR student page stated police had arrived to arrest students at the building. Several members of the #RUReferencelist task team and Concerned Staff arrived to question motives for police presence. The timing, late on a Sunday night, was questioned and the person who directed police to the scene is not clear. Dr Mabizela, the VC, could not be contacted.
“We think you should try and open channels of communication with the university to see what they deem legal and illegal protest or occupation,” Col Nel told those gathered at the gates on Prince Alfred street outside the student union. “My first job, that I am paid to do, is to fight crime. I’m going to leave now and do that. This is my opinion is not crime,” Col Nel said before leaving the scene.
A member of the local Legal Resources Centre at the scene said anyone acting unlawfully or against the interdict would have to appear before a judge and arrests could take place to guarantee appearance in court. However Police could not identify any legitimate unlawful activity so withdrew.
Students have dispersed but the occupation of the SRC offices continues.
A hearing to make the interdict permanent will be held on Tuesday at the High Court at 10am.
Words by Julia Fish
Header image by Joshua Stein