Perhaps everything that happens at a university teaches us something. Wits University is taking extraordinary measures that it says are necessary to stay open and to complete the academic year. The police have been given the power to prevent and regulate campus-based protest. But how is this power being exercised? And what are we teaching the students who are subjected to it, and those who look on? For many years, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA has been documenting police responses to community-based protest. Excessive force, arbitrary arrest and lengthy periods of detention, often without evidence linking detainees to any wrongdoing, are commonplace. Police and prosecutors collude to arrest as many "ringleaders" as they can — whether or not there is a credible offence to be charged — and to detain them, without bail, for as long as the magistracy will permit. Prosecutors will seek postponements of bail applications on the flimsiest of excuses, probably knowing that there...

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