Fort Hare closes amid violent protests over poor infrastructure
The University of Fort Hare’s Alice campus has been shutdown with immediate effect following the injury of four students and vandalism to property during clashes with the police on Wednesday.
“We expect the campus to be empty by the end of business today. We will re-open on September 2,” confirmed Lizo Piti, acting spokesperson for the University.
This follows an impasse between students and management on the ‘unacceptable’ state of infrastructure and students whose funding applications have been turned down by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
Students who were not happy about the resolutions of the meeting embarked on a protest action earlier in the week, looting and burning kitchens in the dining halls, vandalising school property and blockading the R63, pelting cars with stones. They also stole two cows from local owners and slaughtered them. The police were on the scene watching the violence, resulting in the injury of four students. Three were rushed to Victoria hospital and one was
fetched by parents and taken to East London for medical care.
According to Piti, management had promised to do an assessment of infrastructure and report back on Friday (tomorrow). Spokesperson for the police, Captain Khaya Tonjeni said they managed to disrupt the looting and arrested three male students between the ages of
20 and 22. They are expected to appear in court soon.
Piti clarified that on the matter of student funding, “NFSAS is government administered, we have no say as to who gets funded or not, our role is to facilitate the applications. Unsuccessful students are notified directly and we get a list of the approved students. We help them appeal and when they are denied again, we inherit students who are not funded,” he said.
“The East London campus was happy with this resolution, but Alice students were not. Hence, they break out in violence. Together with the SRC, we decided that we must limit the damage and closed the Alice campus,” he said.
However, the meeting scheduled for Friday will continue as planned.