The ongoing turmoil at institutions of higher learning in South Africa reached a precarious level with reports that students at the North-West University (NWU) torched various buildings yesterday.

Following the disturbances, the NWU has indefinitely suspended classes at its Mahikeng campus.

In the wake of the violent  protests, the university issued a statement on its website. The statement read: “Students were advised to leave the campus immediately for their own safety, and return home, as it is likely to take a considerable period of time to restore operations. Students will be given at least a month’s notice of the re-opening of the campus”.

The statement also reveals the extent of the damage caused by the riot, “estimated to run into millions of rands”. According to the statement, “the administration building was the main target. This building was completely destroyed, along with all official records”.

Student #FeesMustFall protest at the University of Cape Town in October 2015.  Photo: GroundUp

Student #FeesMustFall protest at the University of Cape Town in October 2015. Photo: GroundUp

The disturbances were reportedly ignited by alleged Economic Freedom Front (EFF) student leaders and supporters of the dissolved Campus Student Representative Council members (CSRC), who disrupted the inauguration of the newly appointed (CSRC).

Several South African universities have been rocked by student and workers’ protests in recent weeks.

Students have been protesting over various issues which include escalating fees and accommodation. There have also been demonstrations over institutional racism allegedly perpetrated by university administrators.

Workers at various tertiary institutions have also been demanding an end to outsourced employment.

Following the resurgence of protests, Higher Education minister Dr. Blade Nzimande issued a ministerial statement cautioning, “fringe elements seeking to destabilize our institutions as part of a perverse political agenda and attempting to dislodge legitimately elected student, worker and staff structures through illegal activity, [and] violence”.

Source: North-West University