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SAHRC deeply concerned by UFS tensions

This comes after a fight broke out between protesting workers & spectators at a rugby game.

University of the Free State students sing and dance during demonstrations on the main campus in Bloemfontein over transformation issues. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it's deeply worried that eight years after the so-called Reitz racial video surfaced at the University of the Free State (UFS), management is still battling to address deep-seated racial integration challenges.

In 2008, a video emerged of the university's black workers being lampooned by white students, which sparked a national outcry against racism.

On Monday, tensions ran high when a fight broke out between protesting workers and spectators at a rugby game, which management says has opened up old wounds.

WATCH:_ Protesters disrupt UFS rugby match_

The SAHRC's Buang Jones has spent the last two days at UFS speaking to students, protesters and management.

He says eight years after the video emerged there are still major unaddressed issues.

"The current challenges at this institution are a manifestation of the many frustrations that are expressed about alleged racists incidents that were swept under the carpet."

Yesterday, Bloemfontein resident Wikus Botha was chased off campus by protesters after he tried to place a vandalised statue back where it was before.

WATCH: _UFS shutdown: Statues, tensions & prayers _

Protesters handed over a memorandum to management late last night, calling for vice-chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen to resign.

They're also calling for an end to outsourcing and the renaming of buildings to black struggle heroes.

LISTEN:_ #UFS vice-chancellor speaks out after brawl_

The statue of MT Steyn, a Free State president during the South African War, has partially been vandalised with the words 'Steve Biko' sprayed on it.

Security guards have been deployed to guard the statue of the apartheid leader.

The law building was also sprayed with graffiti overnight.

In 2010, Jansen engaged with staff to ask whether the statue must stay, but he was met with resistance.

SRC president Lindokuhle Ntuli says Jansen must be removed.

"Professor Jonathan Jansen is well-known by the media for things that don't really exist. He is known for transforming the University of the Free State and I believe there is no change here."

Meanwhile, the North West University has ordered the immediate evacuation of its Mafikeng campus following arson attacks and violent clashes between private security and students.

A house belonging to one of the matrons at a university residence and the administration building were torched during the clashes yesterday.

WATCH: Disruptions at NWU_ (Warning - This video contains scenes which may upset sensitive viewers) _

NWU


Posted by Samantha Lekhetho on Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The protests started with a disruption of the inauguration of the new Student Representative Council (SRC), apparently by members of the previous SRC.

There have also been unconfirmed reports of a student being killed, but the university says this remains a rumour.

NWU spokesperson Koos Deganaar said, "Disruptions started with the inauguration of the new SRC so it is quite obvious it's the previous SRC and there are also allegations that some of the students were arrested last night. We have closed the university and will take stock of damages. We appeal to students to go home at this stage."

All images by Reinart Toerien/EWN.

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