There was a fire in Rhodes University’s 163-year-old Botanical Gardens on Wednesday evening as police and students engaged in battles all over the Grahamstown campus.
Independent student magazine Activate @ActivateOnline tweeted: “The wooden bridge by the Botanical Gardens is on fire. #UCKAR”.
Another student publication‚ Oppidan Press @oppidanpress tweeted at around 8pm‚ that: “The fire has been put out in Bot gardens. #UCKAR #Fees2017”.
(UCKAR is an acronym for University Currently Known as Rhodes.)
The gardens – known to students as “Bots” – was given national monument status in 1994.
Also in flames on Wednesday were a building at the university’s tennis courts; a barricade at the entrance to the Journalism Department‚ where‚ Activate reported‚ “Jane Viedge‚ a lecturer in the Journalism Department‚ has been shot in the back”; rubble outside Jan Smuts residence; and the Mullins Hall examination venue.
These fires were quickly extinguished.
Oppidan Press @oppidanpress reported that people providing aid to the injured also came under attack: “Police have shot medics who had their hands up on the lawns by Founders Hall #Fees2017 #UCKAR”.
The violence came as Rhodes management announced that “a decision has been taken to allow all students‚ both undergraduate and postgraduate‚ the option of writing examinations either now‚ in October/November 2016‚ or in January/February 2017”.
The university statement acknowledged “that many students are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety because of events experienced on campus in recent weeks” as a result of fees protests.