Just hours after examinations kicked off at the University of the Western Cape, fresh protests erupted as some students boycotted exams.
Amid the chaos, UWC spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo confirms police are investigating two incidents where female students were allegedly raped at a residence on Friday.
Police spokeswoman Noloyiso Rwexana confirms: “The victims are aged 20 and 21 and a 23-year-old man was arrested on Saturday, November 5, in one of the incidences and appeared in court [yesterday] facing a charge of rape.
“Investigation continues in the other case and an arrest is yet to be made.”
Exams began at the troubled campus but protesting students unhappy with management’s decision to go ahead without first meeting their demands led to unrest at the University in Bellville yesterday.
UWC has been affected by #FeesMustFall protests with students demanding free higher education for all.
Protesters clashed with police after they tried to stop students from boarding buses to take them to off-campus exam centres.
Chaos erupted when a group of student protesters armed with rocks and using dustbin lids as shields approached the entrance where the buses picked up students.
They pelted cop vans at the gate, and cops retaliated by firing stun grenades to disperse the crowds.
Shortly after this, the group retreated to the residences where they stoned a campus vehicle with a university employee inside, before overturning it.
A representative of UWC’s Fees Must Fall movement says they want to “shame” students writing exams.
“We went to the shuttle point to tell students that they are sellouts, at first the police told us to disperse and we did but when we went back for the second time, they just shot at us,” he claims.
“We reject exams, it does not make sense for us to write when the situation has not allowed us to study, and there were two women raped on campus over the weekend.”
But Tyhalibongo says violent
protests cannot be tolerated.
“Protest action has escalated, [yesterday] afternoon a University vehicle was overturned and a staff member was held hostage. The police intervened and she was later released,” he adds.
“Later on, protesting students started throwing stones at cars passing on Robert Sobukwe Road and this resulted in further clashes between students and the police.”
Students returning from exam centres told the Daily Voice they were now living in fear following intimidation from protesters.
“We are not safe living here at res, not only is there no form of security but the buildings are badly vandalised — windows, doors are broken and now we are being sworn at for writing exams,” says a 22-year-old student.