A South African university was evacuated and the campus shuttered indefinitely after protesting students set buildings ablaze Wednesday night, a university spokesman said. The protesters torched a dormitory supervisor’s residence and a block of administration buildings that included a science center at North-West University’s campus in Mahikeng, the Associated Press reported.
The violent protests apparently were triggered by the university’s decision last month to dissolve a council of student representatives for not performing its duties. Angry students clashed with university security shortly after a new council was installed Wednesday. Security guards tried to disperse the crowd using rubber bullets and tear gas. The protesting students reacted by pelting them with stones and setting fire to a security vehicle, university spokesman Koos Degenaar said in a statement.
Degenaar dismissed reports on social media claiming a student was killed in the clashes. North-West province police said they received reports of a number of injuries and also shootings though they were unaware of any causalities, eNews Channel Africa reported.
“I can confirm that we have received reports of shooting and people injured, but no one has yet opened a case,” North-West police spokesman Brig. Leonard Hlathi told the South African news service. “A car belonging to a security company was burned down, and two university buildings were also burned. No arrest has been made. We are investigating the incident.”
Last year, thousands of South African students protested nationwide for weeks over plans to raise university fees as much as 11.5 percent in 2016. The largest protest took place in late October outside the main government offices in the capital of Pretoria, with more than 10,000 people calling for President Jacob Zuma to personally address their concerns. Zuma never appeared, but he made an announcement from inside the main building agreeing to scrap the proposed tuition hikes, the Guardian reported.