10 UFS students held after riots

2008-02-21 14:15

Bloemfontein - Police arrested 10 students on various charges at the Bloemfontein campus of the University of the Free State after a group took part in a "disruptive march", Free State police said on Thursday.

Captain Chaka Marope said police had "a hard time" on Wednesday night, until early on Thursday morning, containing the situation after a protest turn to rioting at the campus.

"About 400 students took to the street and went on a rampage at the campus."

Marope said the students were burning tyres and were throwing stones at university buildings.

Police said it seemed that the disgruntled students were protesting against the new integration policy that was implemented at the university.

Marope said the students voiced their dissatisfaction that the policy was formulated without any consultation between the university management and the students.

Protesting for two days

Police arrested 10 students aged between 22 and 30.

Six of them were arrested on charges of public violence, two for malicious damage to property and another two for crimen injuria.

Marope said the students were expected to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrates' Court soon.

A local newspaper reported on Thursday that house committee members from most of the residences on campus had been camping on the lawn in front of the main building on campus - for the past two days - in protest.

It was reported that they handed over a list of problems to the university management to be addressed and were waiting for feedback.

Wouter Wessels, the leader for the Freedom Front Plus Kovsies, said the protest and strike were not politically motivated.

He said this indicated that students were unhappy and not being influenced by political parties.

"It is evident that the unhappiness at the UFS was not just coming front the FF Plus," he said in a statement.

Wessels said house committees were the hands and feet of management at UFS but the situation on campus made it hard for house committees to do their work properly.

No taken seriously

"The university management makes decisions and institute policy without consulting with student leaders," said Wessels.

Dulandi van Heerden, chairperson of the Democratic Alliance on campus, agreed that the situation on campus could be attributed to management ignoring students problems.

"The university should stop making decisions without proper consultation with students and to force the decisions down on students," she said.

Van Heerden said students - up to now - were not taken seriously by the management.