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Students arrested during fee protest at Free State university

Security has been beefed up at University of Free State campuses as students continue to protest over a planned fee increase.

Protesting students reject the proposed 8% hike and demanded free Wi-Fi in all campuses.

The protest started on Thursday and violent incidents have been reported at the Qwaqwa and Bloemfontein campuses.

In Qwaqwa‚ six students were arrested for arson while in Bloemfontein four have been arrested for causing disruptions on campus. The situation remains tense at both campuses. Private security guards and the police have been deployed.

Two students‚ who refused to give their names‚ allege that police on Friday fired rubber bullets and teargas at the Bloemfontein campus protesters. They claim some students have been injured by the police and private guards.

“The police raided our residence this morning. They are targeting certain students they believe are leading this protest. The situation is tense‚” said a Bloemfontein student.

Efforts to get comment from the police were unsuccessful.

University of Free State director of communication Lacea Loader on Friday confirmed the incidents but said academic activities are continuing. Loader could not provide more details because she was about to board a plane‚ but said the university had issued a statement.

“The safety of both staff and students remains a priority to the executive management. Staff and students on both campuses are requested to stay calm and to focus on the coming examinations and completion of the academic programme for the year‚” said the university’s statement.

“Measures are put in place to ensure that the exams will go ahead as planned. The university crisis team‚ including members of the executive management and protection services‚ is on alert and we are working to stabilise the situation on the two campuses.”