Wits University has confirmed it has beefed up security following an attempt to torch the law library at its main campus in Johannesburg in the early hours of Saturday.
The institution’s spokesperson, Shirona Patel, said that two suspects, wearing balaclavas and carrying gas cylinders, gained entry through a window.
“We are not taking any chances; we believe these two suspects were planning to start a fire at the law library,” said Patel.
“At this stage, it is difficult to identify them because they were wearing balaclavas.”
Patel said the university was alerted by security guards that “there was the smell of gas. [The building] was then evacuated and two empty gas canisters were found at the scene.”
The incident comes weeks after the University of Johannesburg’s 1 000-seater Sanlam Auditorium was torched by arsonists.
The attack brought damage costs to the university since the #FeesMustFall protests to more than R100 million.
Oupa Mashile, the executive director of tuition and facilitation of learning at Unisa, said the torching of universities was shifting attention away from the “real” issues that management had to deal with.
“The issues raised are now being tainted by these criminal elements,” said Mashile, noting that students would also be academically disadvantaged due to ongoing acts of arson.
He said the incidents would cripple the future of hopeful young South Africans.