NWU shuts down campus after violent protests
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Rustenburg - Students at the North West University’s Mafikeng campus were told to go home on Wednesday night as the institution’s management opted to shut down the campus ”indefinitely” in the wake of violent protests.
University spokesman Koos Degenaar said: “All students will have to go home indefinitely. The campus is closed.”
— Jeandré Goliath (@Jeandre_Goliath) February 24, 2016
The announcement followed clashes between students and university security as well as the torching of a car and two buildings by students angry at the university’s decision last month to dissolve the Student Representative Council (SRC) and replace it with a new SRC council.
Degenaar said that the university would issue a full statement on Thursday morning.
Also read: Rampaging NWU students torch buildings, car
He said that the trouble on the campus had started after a newly appointed Student Representative Council (SRC) was inaugurated on Wednesday.
The previous SRC was dissolved earlier this month by the university management, which claimed that it had not been performing its duties as required by its constitution.
After the inauguration there were running battles between university security and students who supported the previous SRC. Rubber bullets and teargas had to be used to disperse the students.
Twitter was abuzz with reports of the situation at the campus.
One Twitter user - Kearbetswe - who posted a picture of the burning building, tweeted: “Situation right now at NWU Mafikeng. God Intervene.”
“A car belonging to a security company was burnt down and two university buildings were also burnt. No arrest has been made, we are investigating the incident,” said Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.
One of the torched buildings was reported to be the administration building, while the other was reported to be the science centre building.
— Luu (@NombusoLuu) February 24, 2016
Hlathi said that police had received reports of shooting, but he was not aware of any deaths.
“I can confirm that we have received reports of shooting and people injured, but no one has yet opened a case.”
Degenaar also dismissed as unfounded reports on social media which claimed a student had been killed in the clashes.
“It is incorrect that someone was killed. Reports that security used Sharp ammunition are incorrect,” he said.
Students allegedly pelted the security guards with stones when they were requested to disperse. They had gathered and demanded that suspended former campus SRC president Benz Mabengwane address them.
— Samantha Lekhetho (@s_lekhetho) February 24, 2016
Initially lectures were suspended on Wednesday following the violence that broke out at the campus, but following the burning of the buildings, the decision was taken to close the campus.
Degenaar said that the fire appeared to have started in the science centre before spreading to the administration building.