Mahikeng - An enormous amount of petrol and a large number of petrol bombs were found at the North West University's (NWU) Mahikeng campus after it was closed, the university said on Thursday.
"If the university did not react on time, it was possible that the university would have been burned down," said Vice Chancellor Dan Kgwadi.
The Mahikeng campus was closed on Wednesday as it was "under siege" by protesting students, the university said at the time.
Students at the NWU joined the nationwide #FeesMustFall students protests last week and afterwards continued protesting for transformation at NWU.
The students were all ordered to vacate the campus by 08:00 on Wednesday.
Still risky for students, staff
Kgwadi said the situation at the campus was not conducive for staff to resume work or academic activities.
"Our approach has been to take the campus from the students and establish authority. We had a meeting with parents to explain the situation. We felt that the best thing was to close the campus so that sanity must prevail."
He said it was still risky for both staff and students.
"We had to clear the campus for now so that we can go in and assess how much needs to be fixed before the students are allowed back on campus."
He said the situation would impact on the start of examinations but, other campuses would write their examinations as planned.
‘We can’t afford another Marikana’
North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo has intervened in an attempt to find a solution to the problem at the Mahikeng campus.
"As government we don’t have control over the university but we cannot allow the situation to deteriorate. My request to you is that, be flexible as the management of the university. After what happened at Marikana, we cannot afford another situation like that," Mahumapelo said.
Forty-four people were killed in Marikana near Rustenburg during a wildcat strike at Lonmin mine in August 2012.
Thirty-four mineworkers were killed on August 16 2012 when the police fired at them. Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed in the preceding week.
"We need stability in our province and that stability is not going to fall from heaven, we must engage amongst ourselves as adults and resolve this problem amicably," Mahumapelo said.
The premier addressed students at the campus entrance and appealed for calm. He also appealed with university management to allow students back on campus and engage with them to find a solution.