Police spokesperson FC Van Wyk said the students were blocking the entrance to the campus as well as Klipfontein Road with rocks.
Van Wyk said the university has an interdict against any protest action by the students.
“In the early hours of Tuesday, government vehicles were overturned and damaged by the protesters,” he added.
Van Wyk said the students were told to leave because the protest had not been permitted and deemed illegal.
The police tried dispersing the students when they started throwing stones, he added.
“Students will appear in the Athlone Magistrate's Court soon on the mentioned charges.”
The protest started on Friday regarding safer housing, CPUT student representative council chairperson at the Athlone campus, Thobile Tshefu, said.
The students fear criminals in the area who they say are targeting them, and held a demonstration to raise attention to the issue.
Tshefu said they want CPUT management to “come and engage with students, not to tell lies on media that they engaged with us”.
CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said students were arrested for public violence “despite a mammoth seven-hour meeting" between CPUT’s Dean of Students, Prem Coopoo, representatives from the Western Cape Health Department, management from the college and students to reach a number of positive outcomes on Monday.@SISONKE_MD