Fire at Rhodes Botanical Gardens as cops and students clash

Picture: Activate via Twitter
Picture: Activate via Twitter

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.

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