Students rage against UFH’s slow machine

University of Fort Hare students went on a rampage on Tuesday night, looting and damaging university property in the process.

As a result of the violent protest, academic activities were disrupted.

DamaGe caused by rampaging Fort Hare students in Alice Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA

Some of the items stolen at the bookshop included laptops, calculators and books.

The protest started after a mass meeting on Tuesday night with students vowing not to go back to lectures until their demands were met.

Their grievances include no running water in some residences and long outstanding loan agreement forms and fee waivers.

SRC president Mosuli Cwele said during the mass meeting students agreed to protest until the management responded positively to their demands.

He said, earlier in the day they had held a meeting with management to raise their grievances.

“Their grievances included a wi-fi problem, a water crisis in some residences, fee waivers [academic excellence awards in the form of money] allowances for non-resident students, and students who have not been given their loan agreement forms,” he said.

Cwele said students felt that the university was dragging its feet in addressing student concerns.

“Students said they were tired and could not carry on with empty promises, which is why there is this protest,” he said.

When the Dispatch arrived on campus at 8am yesterday an employee of the bookshop said they had lost everything.

Although she did not want to estimate the loss, she said the damage was massive.

Yesterday thousands of students spent almost the whole day singing and demonstrating around the campus.

Around 9am students started gathering and moved from one residence to the next mobilising students to join the protest.

An hour later, thousands gathered at the main entrance preventing vehicles from going in and out of the university.

This was after they had chased more than six security guards away.

They then moved outside the premises blocking the road outside campus and looted a delivery truck and delivery van.

A truck carrying milk was emptied while a bakkie that had chips and sausages was looted.

Two hours later armed police descended to the campus to establish order.

They used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the students.

Students threatened police with stones but did not throw them.

“Because of the disruptive behaviour by some students, we have resolved that it is in the best interest of the university to close Alice campus for the rest of the day,” vice-chancellor Sakhela Buhlungu said.

“Alice staff are therefore requested to vacate their work stations and return to work tomorrow [today].”

Buhlungu condemned what he termed “criminal behaviour” by a small group. — sinom@dispatch.co.za

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