Charges over protests withdrawn against 7 UFS students

2016-06-10 22:17
(Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

(Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Bloemfontein – The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has withdrawn charges against seven of the nine University of Free State students who were involved in protests, it said on Friday.    

Twenty-one students were arrested for public violence and contravention of a court order in February. However, the NPA withdrew charges against 12 students due to insufficient evidence linking them to the offences on their first appearances, said regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping.  

"A decision was taken by the NPA to finalise the matter through mediation. Today [Friday] seven out of nine students agreed to the terms and conditions of the mediation agreement. The mediation agreement is confidential as the university's internal processes are still underway," Shuping said.  

He said one student was not at court and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Another student refused to agree to the terms of the mediation agreement.

The case was postponed to July 4 for the outstanding student to be traced, he said.  

On February 22, the university received media attention after a small group of students led by the SRC president embarked on a protest which culminated in a mass brawl at a Varsity Cup rugby match at Shimla Park stadium.  

Jansen to step down

EFF protesters also pulled down and vandalised a statue of Charles Robberts Swart at the university.

Swart was the last governor general of the Union of South Africa until 1961 and was president of the Republic of South Africa from 1961 to 1967.

Protesters burnt tyres at the foot of the statue, and used hammers and rocks to bring it down.

They were demanding that students facing deregistration should be allowed to complete their academic year and for transformation and "decolonisation" to be fast-tracked.

Protesters also wanted campus buildings renamed after black struggle heroes and for poor students to be given preference when it came to placement, without ignoring the academic criteria already in place.

They also demanded that Vice Chancellor Jonathan Jansen be removed from his post.  

Last month, Jansen announced that he would step down from his position as rector and vice chancellor at the end of August.

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  education  |  protests

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