- Two University of the Free State students have been killed and two others are in hospital.
- The students were allegedly attacked by three suspects in an apparent robbery.
- According to the university, another student was found dead in his room in a separate incident.
Two University of the Free State (UFS) students were killed and two others were in a critical condition after robbers demanded money and their electronics near Phuthaditjhaba on Wednesday.
The group of students, residing at Botjhabela Village, were at their rental accommodation when three robbers wearing balaclavas attacked them at about 00:40.
According to police, they were summoned to the shooting incident in Botjhabela Village at about 01:00.
"Upon their arrival, they found a group of students believed to be studying at the University of the Free State, at QwaQwa branch (sic). The police found two male bodies on the scene with fatal gunshot wounds," said police spokesperson Motantsi Makhele.
He said they were identified by their friends.
Two other men had already been rushed to the Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Regional Hospital, where they were in a critical condition.
The robbers demanded money, laptops and cellphones from the students.
"The names of the deceased and injured will be released once the next of kin has been informed," Makhele added.
Police were investigating two murders, two attempted murders and house robbery.
UFS said it was saddened and shocked by the deaths of its students during two separate incidents in Phuthaditjhaba and the Bloemfontein campus.
A group of students from the Qwaqwa Campus residing off campus were involved in a senseless attack in Phuthaditjhaba during the early hours of today, which resulted in the death of one UFS student, with two in a critical condition in hospital.— UFS (@UFSweb) September 22, 2021
"In the second incident, a student residing at one of the men's residences on the Bloemfontein campus was found in his room this morning (Wednesday). It is not clear when he passed away," the university said.
The South African Union of Students (SAUS) conveyed its heartfelt condolences, prayers and thoughts to the family, friends and fellow students of the deceased students.
"We further would like to wish the two students who are currently in hospital, fighting for their lives, a speedy recovery. The union will be visiting the family, fellow students and the community of Botjhabela village," SAUS spokesperson Asive Dlanjwa said in a statement.
The union called on UFS and Higher Health to provide psychological support to the students left traumatised and distraught by the robbery.
"The reality is that the deaths of these students further highlight the devastating state of student accommodation in the South African higher education sector, particularly off-campus or private student accommodation. In fact, the lack of adequate housing in the sector, by implication, makes the Department of Higher Education and universities conspirators in the senseless killing of students of this nature (sic)," said Dlanjwa.
He said the recent murder of Nosicelo Mtebeni, a student at the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape, could also be directly attributed to the abhorrent state of student accommodation within the higher education sector.
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