Video footage of South African Police Services officers shooting during student protest action at Rhodes University emerged on social media on Wednesday.
A video posted to the UCKAR Student Body Facebook page by Relebogile Rele Moabelo shows Saps officials arresting a male on the campus‚ one five students believed to have been held.
The post’s caption read: “Police shooting at students that are not a threat and are on private property. Please watch till the end. A student being dragged by police after being shot.”
A masters student at Rhodes and eye-witness on the scene‚ who did not want to be named‚ told TMG Digital that she is “extremely worried” about the safety of the students and staff at the university.
“Students have been shot at and arrested. Prince Alfred Street‚ one of the campuses main roads as well as Somerset Street are no longer safe.
“This protest has turned ugly‚ there are policemen all over campus‚” the 24-year-old said.
A second video posted to Twitter by student publication Oppidan Press showed another student being dragged on the road and arrested by police.
Police arrested about five students and pepper-sprayed others who were part of a vociferous group attempting to disrupt a lecture in the Rhodes University law department on Wednesday morning.
It was one of many skirmishes between police and small groups of protesters attempting to rout lectures throughout campus. Rhodes vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela announced last night that lectures would continue from 10.30am today.
Students and lecturers have chosen the non-confrontational approach and have quietly left all venues disrupted today. But this time students attending the lecture stood their ground.
About 70 students and staff in the lecture hall stated unequivocally that they would remain and did not want to hear messages from the protesters.
“We are here to learn. Get out‚ get out‚” they shouted.
The protesters insisted that the lecture should end.
Their insistence was met with fury and profanities.
Police stormed into the venue and slapped cuffs on several of the protesters and informed them they were under arrest for contravening the interim interdict. The interdict prohibits students from disrupting lectures as well as any other unlawful behaviour including assault‚ intimidation or kidnapping.
“Is this what you want‚” screamed one protester displaying his cuffed hands.
“Yes‚” was the reply. “Just get out.”
As the students were led out of the venue through a narrow gate into the parking area behind the department several protesters charged towards police.
They were pepper-sprayed at the narrow gate by a police woman trying to hustle the arrested students through and were then held at bay by two armed policemen.
Students protesters assisted their friends flushing their eyes out with milk and water.
The day started quietly enough with a mass meeting of staff addressed by Mabizela. He said lectures should continue today and urged all to be considerate of one another. Nehawu threw their weight behind the call to return to lectures.
Hundreds of students heeded the VC’s call and flocked out of their residences and filled lecture halls across campus. But it was not to be.
Small groups of protesters went around haranguing students‚ forcing them to vacate their lecture. In the massive Barratt lecture complex‚ a fire-alarm was triggered making lectures impossible.
Several students have vowed on social media the protests will continue. The SRC has also thrown its weight behind calls for the academic programme to be cancelled today.
Mabizela warned earlier this week that the university would close and send its students home if on-going fee protests hamper the resumption of normal activities this week.
Dispatch Live reported that while protesting students on social media on Sunday considered whether or not to “call the VC’s bluff”‚ the university gave the assurance that the e-mail sent to students and staff was not a ruse.
“The closure of the university will have dire consequences for the town‚ for all university staff‚ and for students themselves who will not be able to complete the academic year.
“Think hard about your actions.”
The e-mail from the VC’s office said the university supported the call for a free quality higher education for the poor and Rhodes would work with other universities to lobby government for exactly this‚ the publication said. – TMG Digital/DispatchLIVE