[UPDATE – TWO MORE VIDEOS OF THE FIGHT HERE]
A Varsity Cup rugby match between the University of Free State’s Shimlas and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Madibaz turned ugly, very ugly when fighting broke out during a student protest.
A group of protesters allegedly interrupted a rugby game in a bid to draw attention to the plight of outsourced cleaners at the university. Rugby players and supporters then allegedly went on to assault the protesters, resulting in clashes that later spread to the hostels and lasted all evening.
Now that video above doesn’t carry with it much info, other than to say the following:
A group of protesters allegedly went onto the rugby field during a match at the University of Free State, resulting in spectators running onto the field to attack them…
News24 carries this on the incident:
The University of the Free State (UFS) has condemned the violence against protesters that disrupted the Varsity Cup Match between Shimlas and NMMU on Monday and has launched an investigation into the incident.
“The senior leadership of the UFS condemns in the strongest terms possible the violence against the protesters. Nobody has the right to take the law into their own hands,” the university said in a statement…
“Members of the UFS Protection Services gathered around the protesters but were outnumbered. After a few minutes, spectators ran onto the field. The protesters were chased off the field and beaten by the spectators.”
People who were injured during the incident were treated on the scene by medical personnel.
Loader said both the protesters and spectators included people that are not enrolled at the university.
The university has launched an urgent investigation into the matter using footage from the event to identify people that acted violently.
As the video spread on Facebook one student posted THIS VIDEO, pointing to a woman being hit twice in the face as one of the reasons for the heightened tensions. You can see a student with a white t-shirt lay into her from around seven seconds onwards, just in front of the gates as they burst open.
A second year student, Angelico Vanto, tells a different story on the Daily Vox and it sounds truly terrifying:
They [the police and the white students] were specifically targeting black students. The students threw stones at the protesters from their windows and when the black students retaliated, the police shot rubber bullets.
One of my friends was shot in the face with a rubber bullet. I was shocked at what I saw. I saw a police officer throw a girl to the floor. I saw three guys beat up a friend of mine in front of me – kicking him on the floor.
The black students were being punished for defending themselves. You know, people talk about the racism here. I have white friends. And I didn’t think it was so bad, until today when I saw that white students actually beat up black students for protesting and interrupting a rugby match. I saw a white man throw a black woman to the ground.
Then this from former eNCA journalist Earl Coetzee:
What I just saw on the UFS campus left me disgusted.
A group of students (mostly black, with a few white ones sprinkled in for flavour) were engaged in the regular protest song and dance.
A small distance away, another group (all white) were standing, singing Die Stem.
Between them stood a line of Public Order Police (all black, including Colonel Munusamy of the Tatane fame/infamy).
I mention all the races, not because I am race-obsessed, but because the protest which started as a backlash at the perceived lies by UFS management about workers’ salaries, has now become a matter of black students fighting against white ones. Go check the entrance to the campus at the moment (22:53) if you don’t believe me. A few dozen burly white men, some in camo gear and armed are parked at the gates.
During the standoff inside campus, some of the white students hurled a volley of rocks toward the black group. Some of the black students ran. Some retaliated.
What were the police’s response? Two of them immediately started firing rubber bullets in the direction of the retreating black students. One of their colleagues tried to stop them, but the horse had bolted.
Suddenly there was a barrage of rubber bullets, and stun grenades and they chased the black students off.
This was the first thing that struck me as kinda messed up.
After all the black students had been dispersed, I expected them to do the same to the white group.
Not to be.
Instead, they walked up to the group, who was still singing their old party anthem, and simply ordered them to clear out. One even said please.
This is the kind of thing that makes it really hard to remain objective. That might explain why one of my photographer colleagues totally lost his cool and started screaming and cursing at the police.
Disgusted. Sad. Not surprised though.
Seen too many similar incidents to be surprised.”
A South African university campus is a highly charged place to be at present, no matter at which institution you happen to find yourselves at across our country. Let’s just hope we reach a point where the cause remains the foremost reason for any protests and the issue of race can cease to polarise opinion so irreconcilably.
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