Fort Hare University protests turn violent

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The violent protests over student funding and building maintenance at the University of Fort Hare in Alice forced the authorities to suspend classes until September 2.

Last Friday, the Students Representative Council approached the university’s management regarding the building maintenance and the National Students Financial Aid Scheme funds not being provided to some of the students. They agreed to wait for a week, so that the management could prepare a plan to address both issues.

However, on Monday, a crowd of students went on a riot blocking the R63 into Alice and stoning the passing cars. As a result, the police had been called who had to use rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

Four students were injured in those clashes and later taken to Victoria Hospital in Alice. Three more students were arrested.

“And then on Wednesday, yes, a terrible thing happened. Students went around campus singing, so most didn’t attend classes,” university spokesperson Lizo Phiti stated. “By midday, they blocked gates, stoning the cars of innocent public individuals. Around 13:00, it surfaced that a cow was attacked… and the students went [on] to carve it to pieces and took those to their rooms.”

Two cows herded onto the campus by the neigbouring villagers were eventually killed.

“The police responded by going onto the campus, firing teargas,” Phiti reported. “We are quite shocked.”

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