No serious incidents at Maties march

2016-03-03 22:30
Stellenbosch University students protesting against fee hikes, march through the centre of town. (AFP)

Stellenbosch University students protesting against fee hikes, march through the centre of town. (AFP)

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Stellenbosch - No serious incidents were reported following a protest march by the EFF Student Command on Thursday, the University of Stellenbosch said.

"A tense situation developed on the Rooiplein [the main square on campus] where protesters tried to prevent members of AfriForum from washing the JS Marais statue," the university said in a statement.

A group of students was voicing its disassociation from Afriforum, who had gathered around the statue before the arrival of the protesters.

"Apart from emotions running high, both groups showed restraint throughout spirited discussions before dispersing with no serious incidents being reported."

According to the university, information at its disposal showed that a significant number of those involved in activities on the Rooiplein were not students.

Earlier on Thursday, video clips on social media showed black and white students shouting at each other while police tried to keep them apart.

A statue was erected for Marais after he donated £100 000 in 1918 to allow the institution to change from Victoria College to Stellenbosch University.

The university said organisers of the march had obtained prior approval from the municipality in conjunction with the police and campus security.

Two members from the institution's management team accepted a memorandum from the EFF Student Command which related to allegations of victimisation and criminalisation of black students.

The memorandum was handed over at the end of the march.

"The university acknowledges the right of staff and students to participate in peaceful protest, provided that the administrative and academic activities are not disrupted; that actions do not lead to any risks to the safety of staff and students, or university property; and that the rights of students to study or attend classes are not infringed upon," it said.

The university added that it could not respond to allegations of racial slurs on social media because no complaints or incidents had been reported.

It said students and staff could submit complaints, anonymously if they preferred, to the university's Equality Unit.

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