Police have arrested 27 University of Pretoria (Tuks) students when violence broke out on Friday as students were demanding the removal of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.
The protests prompted the closure of the institute’s Groenkloof and Hatfield campuses, Rekord East reported.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Asnath Malatsi said police fired rubber bullets to disperse the violent mob after they allegedly stoned a police vehicle.
“Twenty-seven students were arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property. They stoned a police vehicle, shattering the windscreen,” she said.
UP spokesperson Anna-Retha Bouwer said protests at the campuses had calmed down but the institution remained closed.
“There will be provision for students who have missed classes and lectures and that will be communicated,” she said.
Economic Freedom Fighters student command (EFFSC) earlier this week threatened to bring the university to its knees should it not remove Afrikaans as a language of instruction.
EFFSC leader Kabelo Mahlobogwane said the party members were at the Brooklyn police station to ensure their fellow students were released.
He claim police were hunting down students with live ammunition.
“One of our fighters was walking away and the police beat him down and brutally arrested our comrade. They are hunting down other comrades. We are outside the Brooklyn police station where some of our fighters were arrested and we are trying to get them released,” he said
During the protests a Pretoria journalist was almost arrested and hit by rubber bullets while covering the violence.
Tankiso Makhetha said police mistook him for a student when he was seen following some protesters who had run out of the Brooklyn police station.
“We were at the police station after some students were arrested. Some stormed in and those who were initially arrested were running out. I followed them and as we reached an intersection, I heard an officer saying they should either arrest or shoot me. I was saved by our photographer,” he told Rekord.
He said shortly after the incident, he was nearly arrested while video recording the violence with his cellphone.
“I was taking photos and videos of students attempting to take an iPad from another journalist. A female officer approached me, trying to snatch my phone. As I pulled away, two other officers came along and wanted to arrest me, thinking I was a student and saying that I was not supposed to be recording.”
– Caxton News Service