Police Minister Bheki Cele says it is not the responsibility of police to pardon students that have been arrested during Fees Must Fall protests. Cele was addressing young delegates on day two of the National Youth Crime Prevention Summit taking in Pretoria.
Some of the youth delegation pleaded with the minister to pardon arrested students. It was day two of the National Youth Crime Prevention Summit and young delegates were not holding anything back.
They raised policing concerns directly with the Minister. An issue that came out strongly is the arrest of students that were involved in campus protests during Fees Must Fall.
“We are here to state that our students are not criminals, criminals are out there killing students on campus and they are failing to arrest them but when students are fighting for NSFAS, they come armed and arrest students. We want to state categorically clear that can the minister ensure that our students are released,” said student activist, Thato Kgetse.
Minister Cele however says he does not have powers to pardon students. However he also cautioned that anybody that breaks the law must face the consequences.
“Everybody that has been arrested must go through the process…. they can ask for pardon along the way with the NPA. It’s not just students, there have been many taxi drivers, civil society protestors. Once we arrest you, you are arrested and we put you through the processes.”
Around 800 from across the nation are attending the summit, which seeks to find solutions to crimes affecting young people. This comes as police have warned that criminal syndicates are investing in youth and enticing them into a life of crime.
The youth however pointed to high unemployment as a contributing factor to young people engaging in criminal activities . With two days of discussions concluded, the summit has now just one more day to develop a youth crime prevention strategy.