23 February 2016

South Africa: Students Defiant Afrikaans 'Must Fall'

Pretoria — A student leader has narrated his ordeal allegedly at the hands of police following violent scenes that rocked the University of Pretoria where students demonstrated against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.

Scores of students at the institution of higher learning have been protesting under the #AfrikaansMustFall campaign, under which they are demanding the total removal of Afrikaans.

Some 29 students were arrested following the protests and appeared at the Pretoria Magistrates Court.

Among these were student leader, Amla Monageng (24), spotting a heavily bandaged left arm, an indication he said mirrored the culture of brutality against students taking root.

He narrated his ordeal at the hands of law enforcers.

"As a responsible student leader, I went to the police station where I was demanding for the release of a student who had been arrested for taking pictures. Instead they started pushing and beating me," he recounted.

"I was chased like a criminal. As if they were following a drug dealer or something. The scene was similar to that.

"When they arrested they started beating me, fighting me until they took me down. They beat me until I couldn't move my hand and sustained hand and hip injuries."

Monageng continued, "I was taken to Brooklyn where I was put in the cells and only received medical attention after five hour. I then went to see a doctor at Tshwane hospital where I got medication."

He remained defiant.

"I was ill-treated. My thinking is that we must continue with the struggle until we get what we want. Black students are not being protected at the campus and are being set up against Afrikaans by the

management. This must stop."

However, Gauteng provincial police spokesman, Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng brushed aside the claims by Monageng arguing he did not file his complaint with the law enforcement agency.

"The student in question (Amla Monageng) has not reported the matter, and I'm not in a position to comment," Captain Mofokeng charged.

Meanwhile, some students that spoke to Gauteng Guardian are defiant the protests would continue until Afrikaans was removed.

"The culture of entrenching Afrikaans at the university is what we are fighting against because we are being told to chant, read and even cry in Afrikaans while preferred languages like English and Sepedi are sidelined," said Karabo Mathopo (24), a student doing Mathematics of Finance.

"Statistics at the university show that 70 percent of the student prefer to do their business in English and yet question papers, prospectuses and the website is full of Afrikaans. In the end white students have an unfair advantage over black students.

They are undermining other languages and were determined to overthrow the culture of Afrikaans. We will continue with the struggle and we will not be shaken. We don't want Afrikaans and they can't impose it on us," she added.

Mathopo was at the Pretoria Magistrates Courts on Monday to offer solidarity to fellow students that were arrested following violent scenes on campus last Friday.

The scholars' protests coincided with a march the ruling African National Congress (ANC) embarked on against racism in the city.

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