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UWC gets ultimatum as violent protests set to continue

Students says the university must address their demands or the violent unrest will continue.

Students prepare for clashes with police at the University of the Western Cape on 11 November 2015. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Protesting University of the Western Cape (UWC) students have given university management an ultimatum - address their demands or the violent unrest will continue.

WATCH: UWC protest damage 'likely to cost millions'

Disgruntled students at the university torched a residence administration building and disrupted examinations on Wednesday, claiming management had failed to adequately address their needs.

Among their grievances in a memorandum to the institution, students are calling for residence fees to be reviewed and for student debt and outsourcing to be scrapped.

Campus activities were brought to an abrupt halt after Public Order Police and protesting students clashed into the night.

Demonstrators took their frustrations to the doorstep of the university's executive after some students were arrested for public violence.

WATCH: Police and students clashed violently into the night at the University of the Western Cape's Bellville campus.

Student, Zinzi Sixaba, says the police response to campus protests has been excessive.

"This is uncalled for. They're sending police and brutalising students. I, for one, am calling on all the black academics at this institution to write a letter to the Human Rights Commission because something needs to be done; people are being injured, we are being injured and this is just the start."

The institution had to postpone two exams slots as well after protesting students caused disruptions at assessment venues.

Property was vandalised and there were reports of looting.

At the same time, some non-protesting students say they feel hard done by following several disruptions to the academic calendar.

"It's stressful because the exams have been postponed twice already. It affects the studying because I don't want to study anymore."

UWC management says it will continue to hold urgent discussions in a bid to restore order on campus.

Police firing rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades in a bid to calm violent protesters who in turn pelted officers with bricks and rocks.

Protests intensified after police raided campus residences and arrested at least 14 students.

#UWCShutDown demonstrators are not letting up, struggle songs continue. Riot police still on campus. NM pic.twitter.com/SzBQK8EL6M

One student complained the presence of the police was unwarranted.

He said all the group wants was to meet with university management.

"All the students want is to be heard."

EXAMS CANCELLED

The unrest has prompted management to cancel exams scheduled for this week.

Spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo says exams scheduled for today, tomorrow and Saturday have been cancelled and it's unclear when exams will resume.

She added that the institution will alert staff and students once a date has been decided on.

Students have vowed to continue their protests today.

STUDENTS TO MARCH TO COURT

Protesting students will today march to the Bellville Magistrates Court where their colleagues are expected to appear.

Five students were arrested for allegedly assaulting a female security officer while mobilising for protests.

Further arrests were made during the course of the day during clashes with police and campus security.

Protests continued despite an agreement between students last week that some of their demands would be met.

Student leader Kaizer Festile says, "We'll be mobilising to support our students at court. From there on, we will be waging a war with whomever is waging a war with us. The only language this management is able to understand is the violence they're using on us."

Meanwhile, another student activist, Palesa Mcophela, says parts of the agreements were breached.

"The agreements that we had last week have not been fulfilled. First of all, we said we we're going to hold protests, but the security needs to leave campus, because what's happening is that, with the security around, we cannot study, we're still traumatised and we can't study."

Images by Thomas Holder/EWN.

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