Violent clashes continue at VUT

2016-10-13 16:10
The bricks used to throw at police. (Ivan Pijoos, News24)

The bricks used to throw at police. (Ivan Pijoos, News24)

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Johannesburg - Clashes between students and police at the Vaal University of Technology are continuing, with neither side willing to back down.

Students are throwing stones and petrol bombs at the police and they are retaliating with rubber bullets. The students have become innovative in their approach to the running battles, using garden umbrellas, doors, mattresses and cardboard boxes as shields against the rubber bullets.

"We want more, another one," the students chanted as police continued to fire rubber bullets and teargas in their direction.

Violence at the institution escalated on Wednesday night, with buildings being set alight, and continued on Thursday, with clashes between students and the police. 

A makeshift storage room and a residence administration building were damaged on Wednesday night. Mostly mattresses and old fridges were destroyed, acting deputy vice chancellor Segopane Seroka said.

According to pictures sent to News24, part of the VUT in Vanderbijlpark was set alight. Large groups of students were pictured and a structure was in flames.

Expelled SRC president Troy Mathebula said that students were angry about management’s punishment of several student leaders.

On Tuesday, 19 mostly EFF-aligned SRC leaders were either expelled, suspended, or given a warning due to an arson attack that had taken place in May.

Mathebula said he had met students before the violence broke out, but did not know what had sparked it. They had discussed how they wanted Seroka to leave his post.

"Then I left because I am not even allowed on the campus. In the middle of the night, I received a report about the violence."

Seroka said he believed Mathebula and 18 other EFF members were behind the violence.

"Those who were sanctioned, mobilised students who were not involved in the matter."

Seroka said the institution was still open, but there were concerns about the rest of the academic year.

"We came from recess this week, and then the disruptions happened after we sanctioned students on Tuesday. We have not been able to catch up with our academic programme as planned."

The institution would meet students for talks on Friday.

In a statement on Tuesday, the university warned that unless the ongoing fee protests ended and lectures resumed, final-year students would only graduate next September.

The shutdown would also have a negative impact on foreign students who needed visas to study in South Africa.

The university said it supported the call for free education, but if the protests continued, it would be forced to close completely for the rest of 2016.

Read more on:    eff  |  johannesburg  |  university fees

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