24 Free State University students arrested during protests
The students will appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court for contravening the Road Traffic Act and Gatherings Act
The southern entrance of the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, the capital city of the Free State Province. Picture: iStock
Police have arrested 24 students who were protesting outside the University of Free State’s (UFS’s) main campus in Bloemfontein on Thursday.
This comes on the heels of the arrests of six University of the Witwatersrand who were detained at the Hillbrow police station after the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) embarked on protests for the second day running, calling on the university’s management not to “exclude students who have outstanding fees”.
The students have vowed to continue protesting the exclusion of indebted students and the commencement of classes when more than 8,000 students have not yet registered due to their student debts.
It demanded that all academically deserving students be allowed to register. students at UFS and University of Pretoria (UP) took to the streets on Thursday over the financial exclusions.
According to Free State police spokesperson Motantsi Makhele the 24 UFS students were arrested as they were blocking the roads, which resulted in stun grenades being used by the police to disperse the crowd.
“A total of 24 students were arrested for contravening the Road Traffic Act and Gatherings Act. All arrested students are expected to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court soon,” Makhele told OFM.
Earlier this week a group of protesters disrupted activities at the UFS main campus, citing issues of funding, campus access, the online registration process and the academic programme.
UFS spokesperson Lacea Loadersaid the protesters handed over a memorandum with a list of demands to the university management and a response was provided to the group on Wednesday morning.
“The executive management is committed to ensuring stability on campus and to the uninterrupted continuation of academic and administrative services. They will continue to engage with students to find amicable solutions to matters of concern to them.
“It remains important that the 2021 academic year continues and that it is completed successfully,” said Loader.
Meanwhile, the UFS has extended the registration period for first-year students to 19 March, while senior undergraduate students have until Friday 12 March to register.