Pretoria - Drama unfolded at the Tshwane University of Technology’s main campus on Thursday when a group of about 50 students from Soshanguve campus disrupted students who were preparing for their examinations scheduled for Friday.
Some students said they were dragged out of the library by the protesters while they were revising for their exams. They were unsure about whether the scheduled exams would continue Friday.
University spokesman Willa de Ruyter said she would release a statement soon with more information about the way forward. She said the protesters went to the campus after they made a failed attempt to disturb the examination which was in progress at the Pretoria Showground, where some students were writing.
The protesters were apparently bused to the campus, where they stormed into a pizza shop and helped themselves to muffins, softdrinks, cigarettes and also stole cash from the tills, according to some students.
They went on the rampage, throwing stones randomly towards the student residence and damaged a few windows. Some non-protesting students were forced to take part in the protest.
Keys of the two students buses were taken by force from the drivers and the buses were parked in the middle of the road. Police, who had been at the main gate, drove inside the campus in a Nyala vehicle when they heard the noise by the students. Upon arrival at the spot where the students had gathered, they started firing rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Protesters ran helter-skelter in the campus and the police gave chase. Some students outran the police and went up a hill and others to a nearby cemetery, where they hid from the police. Seven protesters were apprehended and police said they would charge them with vandalism, theft and hijacking.
Smoke billowed out of the students governing office but the fire-fighters were able to extinguish it. One of the protesters, in a DA T-shirt, was apprehended by the campus security guards, who handed him to the police.
“Where are you from? Where’s your student card,” one of the guards asked him. He replied that he was studying on the campus and was on his way from the library, but could not produce his student card. One guard showed his colleagues a bleeding wound on the head, after he was allegedly hit by one of the protesters.
The majority of the students on the campus said they were not in support of the protest because it was meant to disrupt their exams. A second-year student said he was worried that he might not be able to write her sports management exam Friday. Another student said she sympathised with the protesters who wanted the university to allow free admission.