Sixty arrested in UFS campus protest

A campus protest against Free State University rector Jonathan Jansen saw at least 60 people being arrested in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, police said.

Spokesperson captain Chaka Marope said they faced a charge of contravening the illegal gathering act.

The group would appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Thursday as police was still completing the paper work by Wednesday afternoon.

All those arrested, mainly ANC Youth League and SA Student Congress (Sasco) members, climbed freely into waiting police trucks after they were told that they would be arrested if they did not disperse.

Jansen told a local radio station the protesters were not students but about 150 adults from outside campus.

“I want to emphasise that these people did not include our students, these were complete strangers, adults from somewhere else,” he told OFM.

Free State chairperson of the Sasco Manyene Lesapo said they wanted the removal of Jansen. “He has burned political structures on campus.”

Lesapo said Sasco was unhappy with the upcoming student representative council election that was due to take place at the end of the month.

He said there was no political activity allowed on campus in relation to the student elections.

Free State ANC Youth League chairperson Kgotso Morapela, who was leading the protest, acknowledged that the protest on the campus was illegal.

Addressing the crowd, he was adamant that the group would not leave until Jansen came out to address them.

Jansen said there was no meeting arrangement with any group and the campus was caught off guard. The UFS applied for a court interdict during the day.

He said he would not meet people “showing up illegally” on campus with “sticks and bricks” and it could not be expected from the UFS to accommodate such behaviour.

Morapela told the protesters the UFS “started with its tricks again” by not allowing them to see Jansen.

He was instead informed by management that a court order prohibits any political protests and gatherings on the campus when allowed inside the main building.

Refusing to leave the scene, Maropela urged the crowd not to provoke anyone.

Moments before this, a scuffle broke out between a group of black and white students.
Police were quick to move in between the groups and keep them apart.

The confrontation came when a group of students was stopped from cleaning up rubbish strewn in front of the main building.

A protester apparently grabbed a rubbish bag, which led to tempers flaring between the students.

This year, UFS student candidates for the SRC went through a selection process.

Those selected will come for election by the end of the month in a poll where political parties are not allowed to campaign on campus.—Sapa

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