WATCH: UFS financial head 'assaulted' by angry students

2019-05-23 10:09
The entrance at the University of the Free State.

The entrance at the University of the Free State. (André Damons)

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Angry students allegedly assaulted the financial head of the University of the Free State (UFS) on the university's Bloemfontein campus on Tuesday, Netwerk24 reported.

This was reportedly during protest action over National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding.

Classes were reportedly also disrupted.

A viral video depicts an altercation between Chris Liebenberg, the UFS's senior finance director, and students on the steps of the George du Toit administration building.

Students push Liebenberg around before he is pushed down the steps.

As he attempts to get up, another student pushes him again. He then grabs the student and both roll down the steps. A man then intervenes and escorts Liebenberg from the scene.

UFS on Wednesday confirmed that one of its senior staff members was allegedly assaulted by protesting students at the institution, Times Live reported. 

"This event, together with allegations of physical intimidation of students during the course of disruptions, are the subject of urgent investigation," UFS reportedly said. 

"Any such criminal conduct, as well as undue disruption of academic activities, will be dealt with in terms of the university's disciplinary processes and criminal law," UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader told Times Live. 

Loader reportedly said the academic programme at the Bloemfontein campus was disrupted on Tuesday morning and that it seemed to be linked to a mass meeting the EFF Students Command (EFFSC) called on issues associated with the NSFAS.

'We were provoked' - EFFSC

According to a statement by the EFFSC, students demanded that students whose applications for private accommodation were approved must receive their full meal allowance and that their accommodation allowance dating from February be paid immediately. 

It also demanded that the applications for private accommodation that "has been pending for two to three months now" must be processed immediately. 

Postgraduate students, whose funding had been withdrawn by the NSFAS, according to the EFFSC, must continue to be funded, it demanded. 

In a separate statement, the EFFSC UFS said Liebenberg "provoked" its students. 

"The university personnel (sic) referred to in this matter is responsible for the violent interaction that is seen [in the video]. 

"He can be seen provoking the violence by harshly pushing through a group of peacefully gathered students in an attempt to run them down, and the students responded to the violence in an attempt to defend themselves from the perpetrator."

"The university management will endeavour to engage with students to resolve further outstanding issues regarding NSFAS," Loader told Times Live.

The academic programme at the campus was reportedly continuing as normal on Wednesday.

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Read more on:    ufs  |  nsfas  |  bloemfontein  |  university fees
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