Over 500 people have been arrested in connection with violent protests which have hit universities across South Africa since February 1, acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said on Monday.

“To date, 567 persons have been arrested in 265 cases,” said Phahlane while briefing journalists in Pretoria.

Phahlane expressed concern over several incidents of arson and petrol bomb attacks that have taken place in and around various campuses across the country over the weekend.

The HIV Support Unit and Student Affairs offices were partially burnt at the Howard College campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Friday night after petrol bombs were thrown at the buildings.

On Monday morning, the cricket club house at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University was gutted after being set alight.

Phahlane said police officers confiscated “large quantities of petrol” found near universities.

“Police vehicles have also been attacked with petrol bombs,” he said.

The commissioner said the incidents were proof that “criminal elements or groups with their own agendas have infiltrated the #FeesMustFall initiative for their own purposes”.

He said police officers would remain on campuses to protect students writing exams and to prevent disruptions.

“We continue to take action to disperse students who are disrupting classes and targeting those who wish to study and write exams,” he said.

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