Students stone cops, burn cars

Chester Makana

Chester Makana

Six policemen were injured and several cars destroyed when students at the University of Venda rioted yesterday demanding police hand over a suspected serial rapist to them to deal with.

Thohoyandou police spokesman Captain Mashudu Malelo said more than 100 students had been arrested on charges of public violence, malicious damage to property and assaulting police officers.

The rampage started after the suspected rapist, who allegedly targeted women in their bathrooms, was rescued by police from a mob apparently hellbent on beating him up.

The suspect had allegedly tried to rape a student, who had managed to scream for help.

Students criticised the police for rescuing the alleged rapist and demanded that he be released to them so that they could castrate him.

Malelo said the suspect was Thohoyandou's "most wanted" criminal.

He said police had been hunting for the man in connection with several cases of house breaking and theft at villages around the town.

It is alleged that the 35-year-old suspect had tried to rape several students and had stolen their belongings.

Angry students stoned police and their vehicles.

They smashed several other cars on campus and set one alight.

Attempts by acting vice-chancellor and principal, Jimmy Leatt, to calm the students fell on deaf ears as rioting continued.

The six injured police officers were admitted to Tshilidzini Hospital, while five police cars were vandalised.

Malelo said no case had been opened against the suspected rapist.

"We don't have a complaint from the alleged victim, but we hope she will come forward and lay a charge," he said.