VIPs start arriving for Fort Hare centenary celebrations

2016-05-20 11:17


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East London - VIP guests started arriving at the University of Fort Hare's Alice campus for its centenary celebrations on Friday, despite two nights of violent student protests. 

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On Friday morning, the institute's alumni and academic staff, dressed in the institution's black and gold blazers, gathered at the sports hall in anticipation of the day's events.  

A strong contingent of public order police ‎and security was present. Police helicopter patrols were also being conducted in the area. 

‎Alice police spokesperson Lieutenant Khaya Ntonjeni assured News24 that the institution's programme would go ahead as planned.  

He said security presence had been strengthened. ‎

Zimbabwean President and Fort Hare alumnus Robert Mugabe was spotted at East London Airport on Thursday. Mugabe is expected to convey his message of support during proceedings. 

President Jacob Zuma as well as African Union Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma are also expected ‎as part of the VIP delegation. ‎

Going down memory lane

South African icons such as Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe, Oliver Tambo and ZK Mathews ‎are part of the list of the institution’s prestigious alumni. 

Litha Geza, who graduated in 1992, said the celebrations bring back memories for her. She said she was part of the student movement that transformed the university’s gender bias.

"We were part of a student movement that changed the role of women at the university. Female students were not allowed in some areas and we changed that. This is really an honour to see the prestige this institution holds.

"This is where we learnt about the struggle and its heroes. We also need to ensure that its honour is upheld and we need to instil this pride to the current student group," she said.‎

Wednesday evening saw protesting Fort Hare students set fires on the Alice campus, only two days before the university's centenary celebrations. The protests continued until the early hours on Friday morning as police fired rubber bullets and teargas at protesters. ‎

The students claimed that university management had not met all of their demands.‎

‎One of the demands was that students who did not live in residences on campus should receive allowances for accommodation and transport before the end of the first semester.‎

Read more on:    university of fort hare  |  east london

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