SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: October 19, 2016

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Cape Town

Region & Country:Southern Africa | South Africa

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 19, 2016, student protesters on the campus of the University of Cape Town violently attacked two security guards in separate incidents.  

The protest was in connection with “Fees Must Fall,” a student movement that began in October 2015, opposing high tuition fees and racial discrimination on South African campuses. As they moved through campus, protesters reportedly beat one security guard, reportedly breaking his ribs; they dropped a large rock on another guard from a high story in a campus building, causing severe head injuries. Both security guards were reportedly hospitalized following the attacks.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks in the course of an on-campus protest. While students have the right to free expression, that right must be exercised in a manner that is consistent with university values including non-violence and social responsibility. Acts of violence on campus threaten the well-being of higher education community members, and undermine academic freedom and institutional autonomy.