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Sunday 11 December 2016

Protesting students 'torch university buildings' in South Africa

Published 25/02/2016 | 10:41

Student look through the entrance at the remains of the Science Centre at the North-West University in Mahikeng South Africa (AP)
Student look through the entrance at the remains of the Science Centre at the North-West University in Mahikeng South Africa (AP)

Protesting students in South Africa burned down several buildings at a university, forcing administrators to close the campus and telling students to leave, a spokesman has said.

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An administration block that included a science centre was burned down at the North-West University's campus in the city of Mahikeng on Wednesday night, said university spokesman Koos Degenaar.

Student protesters also burned down the residence of a dormitory supervisor.

The violence comes as student protests have erupted on college campuses across South Africa, often aimed at pressing for lower tuition and more student housing.

On Thursday the university was quiet as students still in dorms were being evacuated, Mr Degenaar said. The university in South Africa's North West province is shut indefinitely.

The violence there started after a Students Representatives Council meeting was disrupted by protesters, Mr Degenaar said.

A suspended student leader was addressing his supporters when private security tried to disperse the crowd using rubber bullets and tear gas, the university said in a statement.

Students then pelted security guards with stones and burned a vehicle that belonged to the private security company, the statement said.

In chaotic scenes posted on social media, large police vehicles rolled on to the campus to restore order. Students retaliated by setting fire to campus property.

The university had previously obtained a court interdict barring disruptions on campus, in the wake of ongoing student protests throughout the country, Mr Degenaar said.

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