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'UFS protest a blow to transformation at the institution'

Earlier this afternoon a statue of apartheid leader CR Swart was damaged, as well as a law faculty building.

A University of the Free State student pokes a fire started at the feet of a statue of former apartheid era leader Charles Robberts Swart (CR Swart) in Bloemfontein. PIcture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.
University of the Free State UFS,Jonathan Jansen,UFS brawl
Local

BLOEMFONTEIN - Free State University says the violence between students during a rugby match last night “opened old wounds and trampled on people’s dignity”.

Protesters, who disrupted the match last night, were attacked by spectators with a number of students injured.

Earlier this afternoon, a statue of apartheid leader CR Swart was damaged, as well as a law faculty building.

Students vandalised the law building, changing the name. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN

Vice Chancellor Jonathan Jansen says last night’s violence was a major setback for the university’s transformation program.

A students used a piece of metal in an attempt to dismantle a statue of former apartheid era leader CR Swart on the University of the Free State campus in Bloemfontein on 23 February 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

“One violent incident on a rugby field, and again we see how long that road ahead is, that we are yet to travel. As I have often said before, you cannot transform a century-old university, and its community, overnight.

Earlier today, tensions ran high on campus when a student was chased by protesters using a sjambok.

Police negotiated with University of the Free State students to disperse after they vandalised a statue of apartheid era leader CR Swart. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

An additional 60 security officials have been called in to monitor the situation on campus tonight.

Jansen says management will assess tomorrow whether they will resume with the academic program on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says while there’s a need for transformation at universities, this must be discussed without violence and destruction.

While the UFS considers reinstating classes at the institution, the University of Pretoria remains closed after ongoing clashes between students, who are calling for the scrapping of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, and AfriForum youth.

Nzimande says his department is preparing a framework to discuss these issues.

“It does not give us an opportunity to engage. We are saying that, as government, we have created institutional framework for being able to deal with these particular things.”

He says issues regarding transformation must also be addressed in broader society.

“The fight against racism … we must make is a societal issue; and to create a consciousness and an awareness that what we had thought was the rainbow nation that we had created, we are in fact not there. We just have to accept that.”

(Edited by Masechaba Sefularo)

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