On Wednesday protesters gathered on the UFS campus to demonstrate against the ban on political parties contesting student representative council elections. The protesters also called for vice chancellor Jonathan Jansen to be fired, and the university council to be dismissed.
In a statement issued late on Wednesday, the university said: “The UFS was the target of a group of people from outside the university… The group, armed with sticks and bricks, had no clear demands other than that the UFS Council should be dissolved and management fired… No students were involved in the protest action.”
Last year the SRC elections were cancelled and the student body suspended, following a disturbance at an inter-varsity tournament. Political formations on campus were subsequently banned and candidates for this year’s elections, set to take place later this month, are required to stand as individuals.
Free State South African Students’ Congress chairman Manyene Lesapo accused Jansen of “burn(ing) political structures on campus”. The province’s ANCYL chairman, Kgotso Morapela, had even stronger words. He reportedly told students: “Jansen did away with political parties such as the ANCYL on campus. Jansen is a puppet of apartheid, we want him gone.” In 2009, the ANCYL also called for Jansen’s expulsion, owing to its unhappiness with his approach to the Reitz Four case, although Jansen has globally been acclaimed for his handling of racial tensions at the university.
The march was illegal and permission had not been asked. About 60 protesters were arrested. They appeared in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on Thursday, where the case was postponed until 15 September to allow for further investigation. DM
Photo: Prof Jonathan Jansen.
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