A heavy contingent of Public Order Police officers moved onto Rhodes University campus early on Wednesday morning after protesters erected and set several fires on the institution’s premises overnight.
Most entrances to the university were blocked by barricades built across roads between campus and town. Some burned fiercely during the night after students set them alight.
Police said medical syringes and waste were scattered across the road at the corner of Prince Alfred and Somerset streets.
Students also reportedly entered some residences to try and talk others into joining the group of roughly 200 students.
Police were quickly on the scene to extinguish the brightly burning barricades. Crews were cleaning up the mess on Wednesday morning.
However‚ students later took a paint contractors’ trailer filled with paint and thinners‚ and turned it on its side to form another barricade across the road.
Police spokeswoman Brigadier Sally de Beer said the South African Police Service‚ emergency services and the fire department removed barricades and put out all the fires. A police forensics team examined the scene. No one was arrested.
Acting national commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane on Wednesday morning again called on students to exercise their right to protest in a peaceful manner without destruction of property or violence.
“The SAPS will continue to monitor the situation countrywide and will take action to maintain stability‚ peace and the safety of lives and property‚” he said.
De Beer said the police would continue to monitor the tense situation at Rhodes.
By late on Wednesday morning‚ Rhodes management was trying to get negotiations with student protesters off the ground.
Students are adamant that they would not re-engage in talks unless management agreed that students and staff would not face any repercussions as a result of the protest‚ that police should leave campus and that the academic programme be shut down.
– TMG Digital/Daily Dispatch