Home South African Two UFS students arrested after Qwaqwa campus protest

Two UFS students arrested after Qwaqwa campus protest

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Students reportedly wanted the money paid to them as opposed to their landlords.

UFS students in Qwaqwa went in a violent protest allegedly over the payment of National Student Financial Aid Scheme. File Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

TWO students of the University of the Free State have been arrested following a violent protest at the Qwaqwa campus, Free State police said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Warrant Officer Mmako Mophiring said the Phuthaditjhaba Public Order Police arrested two students at the Qwaqwa campus on Monday, after they allegedly damaged university property and barricaded the R57 road for almost six hours owing to the protest.

The two students were charged with malicious damage to property and public violence.

Students went on a rampage at the campus, blocking the main road, pelted police with stones and caused malicious damage to a state vehicle and other property within the campus, he said.

The situation was calm on Tuesday, he said.

The university said the entrance gate to the Qwaqwa campus was blocked by a group of students on Monday.

The group stoned private security guards, entered the campus, vandalised and looted property, and assaulted staff and students on campus.

“Two students were arrested by the SAPS and more have been identified. Necessary disciplinary action will be taken, and immediate suspensions will be instituted. Similarly, the SAPS will institute criminal charges against those who have been identified,” said university spokesperson Lacea Loader.

“The academic programme on the Qwaqwa campus continues, mostly online for this week. Students will be informed by their faculties about the revised schedule, as well as arrangements regarding tests and assessments scheduled on the campus for this week.”

Loader said the campus remains open.

“The university’s protection services is on high alert and is monitoring the situation on campus closely.”

Bloemfontein based regional radio station, OFM reported on Tuesday that UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Francis Petersen, said the university would oppose bail for the two students.

According to the radio station, the protest centred on the payment of allowances from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

A group of students was unhappy that NSFAS accommodation allowances are no longer being paid directly to students, but rather to their stated landlords.

The university reportedly changed the system following a 2021 fraud and forgery scandal in which an unspecified number of students submitted forged rental accommodation contracts.

The students, who were then receiving their accommodation funds directly, inflated the rental amounts to enable themselves to receive extra money from the university.

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