By Chloé Osmond
A small group of students, as well as representatives from the South African Students Congress (SASCO) and the African National Congress (ANC) as well as members of the Grahamstown community, marched to the Grahamstown Police Department today in protest .
The group met at the Rhodes University Drama department and was escorted to the Grahamstown Police Station by several traffic control vehicles. Upon arrival, the group was informed by ANC candidate, Mthobisi Buthelezi, that a police portfolio committee from Cape Town was visiting the Grahamstown Police Station. Thus, it was urged that their memorandum be handed over immediately, so that it might receive a response on a national level. The list of demands are as follows:
- The students must receive the respect and protection of the South African Police Service.
- When the SAPS is called to Rhodes University, they must meet first with the student leadership of the event, rather than university management.
- The information about who called the police to come to Rhodes University on the 17th to 20th of April must be Disclosed.
- A resident of Joza township who reports a crime in town should be serviced in town, not sent back to the Joza Police Station.
- Anyone who is arrested in town, should be taken to the Grahamstown Police Station, and not to Joza as this constitutes as a form of intimidation by the police.
- The K-9 unit must not be called to student or community protests.
- The non-toll free number at Joza Police Station must be abolished.
- It must be the responsibility of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to call an ambulance to a scene, and not the responsibility of the citizen
- Police must establish programs for institutions of higher learning in Grahamstown to abolish police brutality and intimidation.
- Police response and arrival to scenes must be swift.
- Rape cases should be handled expeditiously by the police stations in Grahamstown and Joza.
- There should be full-time, functioning crisis and trauma units at the police stations in and around Grahamstown.
The SAPS was given 21 days, starting from Saturday 7th of May, to respond to these demands. The memorandum was collected by Colonel Memani, who committed to submitting it to the Station Commander. He further commented, “we need to have a platform together between the institutions of higher learning and the police stations. If we can create those forums between us, we can understand each other better.”
Photo taken by Chloé Osmond