In photos: Violence at Vaal University of Technology

Deputy vice-chancellor says institution will stay open and only shut down as a last resort

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Photo of people burning things
Student protesters at Vaal University of Technology set mattresses and bins alight today.

There were clashes between police and student protesters at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) in Vanderbijlpark today.

Last night a makeshift storage room, once an office, in the residence administration building was torched. Dr Segopane Seroka the acting deputy vice chancellor indicated that they are still assessing the extent of the damage. 

The storage and maintenance shed was burnt down last night.

On Tuesday a group of students who were disciplined for a protest in May of this year received their letters of suspension. Seroka indicated that these students have mobilised support and are leading this protest. He said that the seven expelled student leaders could still appeal. He said the university remains officially opened and will only shut down as a last resort. 

“We are having a heavy police presence and have beefed up our private security,” he said.

Students continued their protest by blocking the roads surrounding the campus. They intended to march to the main campus from the residence next door. 

Police met them in the road and gave them ten minutes to disperse. Students ignored the warning and began to make their way to the main campus entrance. Police launched stun grenades and rubber bullets as students fled back into the residence. Students and police were then engaged in running battles with the police intent on keeping protesting students inside the property of the residence. Students attempted to launch attacks by using mattresses as shields and a fire hydrant to douse the teargas which was aimed at them by police. 

“We are in support of the national call for free and quality education,” said Mosoane Kgaogelo the deputy chair of the EFF Student command. “Management has paralysed¬†our SRC by expelling our members. They are refusing to engage us on important matters and so the protest continues.”¬†

Expelled SRC president Troy Mathebula¬†said the students want to “sit down” with management. He said that the students have asked for a neutral person to mediate between them, because there is a “deadlock” at the moment, contributed to by the fact that the student leaders were expelled.

The situation had calmed down at the time of publication.

Police inform a protest leader that they cannot enter the VUT campus.
A police officer gets ready to fire a teargas cannister.
A protester uses a rock to block a road.
A protester uses a “katty” to launch stones at the police while a colleague shields him with a bin.
Students threw rocks at the police and protected themselves with a mattress.
Protesters flee as police open fire with rubber bullets.
Students used a water hydrant to douse the teargas.
Protesters set mattresses and bins alight. 
Students fled through the streets and a canal near the university.

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TOPICS:  Tertiary Education Violence

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