Home News S.African protestors beaten after invading university rugby

S.African protestors beaten after invading university rugby

Published on 23/02/2016

Black protesters in South Africa stormed a university rugby game, sparking a mass brawl with furious white spectators in the latest outbreak of race-related student unrest.

Video footage showed black protesters walking in a line across the pitch at the University of the Free State during the game on Monday evening, before hundreds of white spectators ran on to try to force them off.

Workers at the university campus in Bloemfontein city, most of them black, have been protesting to demand an end to outsourcing — when non-teaching services such as cleaning are taken on by private companies.

The university confirmed in a statement that the match against Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University was disrupted in the 17th minute.

The players and match officials immediately left the pitch, but “the protestors were chased off the field and beaten by the spectators”, the statement said.

The university, which has been closed temporarily, said it “condemns in the strongest terms possible the violence against the protestors; nobody has the right to take the law into their own hands.”

The radical Economic Freedom Fighters party said that “a group of white students and their parents stormed into the field and beat (the protesters) up, calling them animals.”

“We condemn the racists and commend the students for their protest action,” it said.

Classes were also suspended on Monday at the University of Pretoria after violence between black students, who want to end the use of the Afrikaans language in lectures, and AfriForum, an Afrikaners lobby group.

Video footage showed a black student slapping a white man on the face during the confrontations.

The University of Pretoria suggested that political parties were behind the unrest, using the trouble “as an opportunity to play out their political differences on our campuses.”

Violent demonstrations involving tens of thousands of students last year shut down several universities and succeeded in forcing President Jacob Zuma’s government to scrap tuition fee hikes.

The protests gave impetus to a slew of other demands.

Students at Stellenbosch University near Cape Town last year started the language protests, saying Afrikaans was the language of apartheid and its use as the teaching medium disadvantaged blacks.

South Africa has been roiled in recent months by a string of racial disputes that have exposed deep divisions more than two decades after the end of white-minority rule.