SIXTY protesters were arrested at the University of the Free State this week after vice-chancellor Prof Jonathan Jansen banned political activity on campus.
Police used rubber bullets to disperse angry crowds demanding the removal of Jansen.
The protests were sparked by the introduction of a new rule preventing SRC candidates from contesting under political banners.
Jansen said this decision was taken to curb racial conflict driven by political formations on campus.
Chaos erupted at the university when the SA Students Congress (Sasco) and the ANCYL expressed outrage at this decision and staged an illegal protest.
They accused Jansen of being an “apartheid puppet”, claiming the campus had failed to transform and was being run by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+).
ANCYL chairperson in the province, Kgotso Morapela, told the New Age newspaper that they would render the institution “ungovernable” should their demands not be met.
According to fourth year UFS student Zoë Fourie, the protests disrupted classes on Tuesday as protesters threw rubbish and burnt papers in front of the university’s buildings.
“Tests were cancelled as a result of the protests, but by 4pm the police had restored calm,” Fourie said.
Jansen is adamant that the protest was the work of “thugs”, many of whom he said were outsiders, not students.
On Wednesday the 60 people arrested made a brief court appearance on charges of striking illegally and vandalism. One student is facing an additional charge for allegedly assaulting a police officer.
Wits SRC president Morris Masutha condemned the move by Jansen, calling the vice-chancellor “a disgrace to Africans”.
“I am not shocked at all”, said Masutha, “he is a puppet controlled by backward whites who do not believe in a prosperous South Africa.”
Masutha also deemed the move “unconstitutional”. “No University should be allowed to violate the freedom of association,” he added.
The SRC president is adamant this rule would not pass at Wits.
“I don’t think our students would ever accept such censorship, and I would never support such apartheid tactics of silencing differing political views on our campus.”