It is difficult to estimate the cost of the physical damage at this stage but the damage to fellow students and the universities is enormous. In many cases it will be a year’s work and fees down the drain while, for others, it will mean a great deal of extra work to catch up.
The point the students were trying to make is already accepted and acknowledged. Subsidies for universities were inadequate and the Finance Minister has already moved to remedy the situation.
Given this situation, there was no justification for the violence and destruction and those guilty of these excesses should be held accountable. The City has already said it has video material on the rioting and that it should be possible to identify the culprits and provide evidence for prosecution. We hope this will sort out the vandals from the genuine students.
The Chamber had long been concerned about the way protests turned violent and it was time to set an example to break the pattern. A protest is one thing, but an orgy of violence is another beast entirely and should be dealt with firmly. The technology we now have should make this possible. We have to draw the line at the destruction of property and hold the guilty ones accountable.
Demonstrations are fine but violence and destruction are not. This is a line that has to be drawn and people should be aware of the likely consequences if this line is crossed.
President of the Cape Chamber