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Students arrested after 'violent protest' at University of the Free State campus

'This behaviour is not viewed as protest action but as criminal acts,' warned the university. File photo.
'This behaviour is not viewed as protest action but as criminal acts,' warned the university. File photo.
Image: University of the Free State

Public order police arrested two students for allegedly damaging property and barricading a road for nearly six hours during a protest at the University of the Free State campus in QwaQwa.

Students allegedly took part in violent demonstrations at the university on Monday.

“The police engaged them but they ended up blocking the main road for traffic, pelted the police with stones and caused malicious damage to state vehicles and other property within the campus,” said police spokesperson Warrant Officer Mmako Mophiring.

They were eventually dispersed by the police and started burning tyres at the R57 road.

The arrested students will appear in the Phuthaditjhaba magistrate’s court on Tuesday on charges of malicious damage to property and public violence.

“The situation today is very calm and [there are] no signs of students near the campus this morning. Police are monitoring,” said Mophiring.

The university said in a statement that the entrance gate to the QwaQwa campus had been blocked by a group of students who “stoned private security guards, entered the campus, vandalised and looted property, and assaulted staff and students”.

“Two students were arrested by the SA Police Service (SAPS) and more have been identified. The necessary disciplinary action will be taken and immediate suspensions will be instituted. The SAPS will institute criminal charges against those who have been identified.”

Management of the university ordered an urgent investigation.

“This behaviour is not viewed as protest action but as criminal acts. Any violence and criminal acts against staff and students and the disruption of academic activities are condemned in the strongest terms.

“The academic programme on the QwaQwa campus continues, mostly online for this week, and students will be informed by their faculties about the revised schedule, as well as arrangements regarding tests and assessments scheduled on the campus for this week.”

TimesLIVE


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