All hell broke loose at CPUT’s Bellville campus yesterday when protesting #FeesMustFall students clashed with cops and private security.
Students attacked cops and guards with rocks, glass bottles and water bombs made with condoms, while authorities retaliated by firing stun grenades and teargas into the crowd.
The violent protests continued yesterday despite CPUT shutting down its campuses until Monday.
The protesters said they would continue to disrupt academic activities until they get a satisfactory answer from management.
The students have demanded no fee increases for next year, and that two student leaders suspended during last year’s protests be readmitted to varsity.
Determined to keep the campus on lockdown, hundreds of students marched around, removing university staff from their offices.
“Get out of here, man, get out others cannot carry on normally when we are out here fighting for our futures,” shouted protesters.
By lunchtime over 1 000 students had gathered outside the Sports Hall where a meeting between university management, stakeholders and students was to take place.
But matters got off to a tense start when private security guards blocked students from entering the building.
Negotiations got underway but an hour later, protesters outside the hall grew restless and threatened to throw faeces at the guards if they were not allowed in.
Water-filled flavoured condoms were thrown at the guards, and students, who found a side entrance to the hall, dumped poo into the venue, effectively ending the meeting.
Soon after this a fight broke out between private security guards, police and members of the media after they were barred from entering the hall.
Two reporters were physically dragged out of the building.
Outside, angry students threw bricks and bottles at the guards who chased after the students armed with batons and shields.
Riot police soon followed and fired stun grenades and teargas to disperse the crowd.
CPUT’s Lauren Kansley says calm was restored late yesterday.
“It was hoped that the Stakeholder Engagement meeting would give students the platform to articulate their grievances directly to a committee which is not made up exclusively of management, but interested parties from across the university community. So it is unfortunate that interested students weren’t given the opportunity to participate.”
Meanwhile, at the University of Cape Town about 1 000 students held a mass meeting on the Jameson steps yesterday afternoon.
The group also complained of heavy-handed security guards, hired by UCT to stop protesters from occupying the Steve Biko building on the upper campus which has been used as student headquarters since the protest started three weeks ago.
Student leaders were still in talks with management by last night to discuss a way forward.