South African university campus closed as protests turn violent
Published 25/02/2016 | 15:52
Students have been ordered to abandon a South African university following violent protests, a spokesman said.
North-West University said protesting students burned an administration building and science centre at the campus in the city of Mahikeng on Wednesday night, forcing administrators to close the campus indefinitely and tell students to leave.
South African president Jacob Zuma said: "No amount of anger should drive students to burn their own university and deny themselves and others education."
Student protests have erupted on college campuses across South Africa, often aimed at pressing for lower tuition, more student housing and at erasing remnants of South Africa's past.
Violence at the North-West University campus started after some students disrupted the inauguration of a new student council, said university spokesman Koos Degenaar.
Defying a court order, Benz Mabengwane, a suspended student leader, entered the university and addressed his supporters.
Private security officers tried to disperse the crowd using rubber bullets and tear gas as students threw stones at them.
Mr Mabengwane denied that students were behind the fires.
Mr Mabengwane is part of a dissolved student council calling for the removal of Afrikaans as a teaching language, which it says unfairly benefits white students on the university's Potchefstroom campus.
It also wants students who are unable to pay their tuition to be allowed to continue their studies, said Mr Mabengwane.