NPA to decide whether to prosecute UFS students

PHOTO: Lucky Nkuyane

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in the Free State is set to decide on the fate of the 24 students or protesters arrested at the University of the Free State (UFS).

OFM News reports that this as they are set to appear in court on Friday to face charges relating to the contravention of the Road Traffic Act and Gatherings Act. The NPA provincial spokesperson, Phaladi Shuping, tells OFM News that this case will be treated on its merits, similarly to all others.

Asked if the NPA in the province will take a leaf out of its counterpart in Gauteng’s book – not to prosecute arrested students at Wits University – Phaladi said “just because a case in Johannesburg was withdrawn, it does not mean all student protest-related cases will be withdrawn”.

“We will only decide after studying the case docket,” he adds.

On Thursday, Tebogo Sako Legodi, who is the EEF Student Command (EFFSC) spokesperson at UFS, alleged that ten students were shot by police while 24 were arrested after the police received numerous complaints.

“We note the brutality unleashed on us by the institution to neutralise student activism on campus. No retreat no surrender! All students want is to be registered,” he adds. The students are protesting against financial exclusion.

The arrests come as Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, announced on Thursday that Cabinet had approved the release of additional funding through a reprioritisation of his own Department’s budget for registrations to proceed. The particular issue was the shortfall in funding for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for 2021.

Meanwhile, the UFS has extended the registration period for first-year students to 19 March, whereas senior undergraduate students have up until Friday 12 March to register.