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No reports of overnight violence at UFS

UFS says as soon as tensions have calmed, it will facilitate talks on how to deal with racism.

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.

BLOEMFONTEIN - Police say there have been no overnight reports of violence at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Students who joined workers protesting over outsourcing disrupted a rugby match on Monday evening, which led to fights on and off the field.

The protesters were then assaulted by spectators on and off the field.

Tensions remained high on campus yesterday.

Vice Chancellor Jonathan Jansen says an extra 60 security guards have been deployed on campus this morning to ensure the safety of each and every student.

Lectures remain suspended for now.

Sporadic acts of vandalism continued throughout yesterday when students damaged a statue and spray-painted buildings.

Outside campus, students from all races are praying for unity and calm to be restored.

The campus gates remain firmly locked.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande has called for better engagement between students and management at the country's universities.

TALKS ON RACISM

UFS says as soon as tensions have calmed down on campus, it will facilitate talks on how to deal with the underlying issues of racism.

Jansen says the racial tensions are a major setback for the institution's transformation program, saying they opened 'old wounds'.

He says the university knows exactly how to deal with the racial tension between students, but clearly it's not done enough up to now.

"Some students - even if it's just some - move into racial camps, and that tells you there's still work to do.

We've got to bring these students in small groups and then larger groups, to start talking again about how we can be human before we are colour."

Students are also angry about the language policy at the university, saying Afrikaans is still too prevalent.

Vice Rector Liz Lange says there is a meeting scheduled to discuss a draft new language policy on Monday.

Meanwhile, the African National Congress (ANC) has condemned the violence at the university in the strongest possible way.