The University of Fort Hare has decided to send students from the Alice campus on early recess, following violent protests there on Tuesday.
Five students were hit with rubber bullets and injured during a confrontation with police at the university’s main gates in Alice. This as they continued to protest over various issues including rejection by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
Details surrounding what transpired on Tuesday were still sketchy, university’s spokesperson Lizo Phiti said.
Phiti told News24 that, because issues were getting out of hand, a management meeting held with student representative council (SRC) leaders on Wednesday resolved that the university shuts down and students at the Alice campus go on recess as from Thursday until September 2.
“Things were getting out of hand because there were acts of violence and throwing of stones at cars, along with altercations with police members,” he said.
Phiti said the university believed there were criminal elements and, to prevent further damage to the institution’s property and injury to students and the public, a recess was necessary.
He said Tuesday’s clash followed a mass meeting held by students at the Sports Complex on the Alice campus.
Students went on to blockade the main gates with stones, also throwing them at police vehicles and other road users travelling on R63 from King William’s Town towards Alice.
“Three of the injured students are receiving medical attention at Victoria Hospital, while the other two have already been taken home by their parents,” Phiti said.
He added that the institution condemned violent acts, saying their behaviour was disappointing as there was a scheduled Friday meeting with student leaders where feedback on issues raised would be given.
A report on the matter, including the damages cost, would be submitted then, Phiti said.
He said, while issues raised affected the Alice campus and East London campuses, students in East London had not engaged in violence as they waited for feedback from the institution.
The university has vowed to restore calm on the campus and ensure that academic programmes continue when the recess ends.
Phiti said the scheduled meeting for Friday would go ahead.
Police continue to be stationed outside the institution in case of any flare-ups.
Public Order Police (POP) were deployed on Alice on Wednesday to monitor the situation, spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said.
He said a group of students tried to set the kitchen alight where food for catering was stored, but security saw the fire before it could spread.
Firefighters were called and they extinguished the fire.
Three male students in their 20s were arrested and charged for burglary. They are expected to appear at Alice Magistrate’s Court soon. POP continues to monitor the situation.
Meanwhile, the East London campus will go on recess as per the normal academic calendar.