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Protest shuts Mandela’s university in S.Africa

Published on 13/02/2013

South Africa's historic Fort Hare University, attended by Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe, has shut down due to a student protest over fee increases, a spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

“A decision was taken to temporarily shut down the university and students were ordered to vacate the premises by Tuesday afternoon,” said Zintle Filtane.

Violence broke out this week when students at the school’s main campus in the southern town of Alice protested against a 90 percent increase in housing fees.

According to the university, property was destroyed and classes suspended as students barricaded the entrance to the campus and held illegal gatherings.

On Monday police used rubber bullets to disperse one of the protests, resulting in the arrest of 21 students.

The school had to obtain a court order preventing students from disrupting classes and vandalising property.

Filtane said students would be allowed back on campus next Tuesday for a meeting with authorities.

The 97-year-old Fort Hare is one of the country’s oldest universities where black people were admitted during apartheid. Mandela enrolled at the university in 1939 and was expelled the following year for political activism.

Several prominent African leaders, such as Zambia’s founding leader Kenneth Kaunda, were also educated there.

Protests over fees are common at South Africa’s state-funded universities.