UP students ‘frustrated’ by violent clashes

Students and members of AfriForum clashed over the language policy at the university earlier today.

The University of Pretoria confirmed all lectures were cancelled for the day after demonstrators boycotted classes on 22 February 2016. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PRETORIA - Some University of Pretoria students say they are frustrated by the violence that has unfolded at the university's Hatfield campus over language policies.

Police intervened during a standoff earlier today between students against Afrikaans being used as a medium of instruction and AfriForum.

A number of students were treated for injuries.

The group was trying to prevent students from holding a meeting at the institution's amphitheatre.

Some students say they don't understand why problems at the institutions can't be dealt with in a civil manner.

"I don't think protesting and disrupting everybody else is the way to go. The way in which they're doing it is very immature. That is the underlying issue. This can be sorted out calmly," one student said.

Another student is adamant Afrikaans must be scrapped.

"We don't get the privilege of being taught in our mother tongue so why should they?"

WATCH: UP shut down after stand-off over Afrikaans

AfriForum members chanted Afrikaans is not going anywhere at the university.

However, Afriforum says it's willing to discuss the language policy issue, but Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) students must put down their weapons.

The group's Morne Morstert said, "The EFF were throwing stones and they had weapons like sticks and different spikes attacked to them. This is violent behaviour and what we're saying is AfriForum believes in mutual recognition and respect."

The university's management says it's drawing up a proposal that will seek to address the problem, but has warned it may be a long process.


Vice-chancellor Cheryl de la Rey has urged students to engage in peaceful talks over the institution's language policy.

De la Rey says she's commissioned a task team to investigate the language issue at the university and a report has been finalised pending recommendations.

De la Rey says there's a proposal on the table, but it can only be discussed when students are ready to engage peacefully.

"The proposal that is currently on the table for consultation is that all the lectures will be taught in English, only with opportunities for what we would call 'translanguaging' … in other words supporting other languages through other means at the university."

Pictures by Christa Eybers/EWN.