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: February 11, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Vaal University of Technology

Region & Country:Southern Africa | South Africa

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 11, 2019, police reportedly fired rubber bullets at a group of Vaal University of Technology (VUT) students during a campus protest.

Students on university campuses across South Africa have been holding protests over financial assistance for students since February 4. Students at VUT allege that at least 5,000 students have been prevented from registering at the university, despite meeting the requirements for financial assistance.

At the February 11 protest, roughly 400 students had reportedly gathered at the main entrance of VUT, blocking the road. Police reportedly arrived and fired rubber bullets at the student protesters to disperse the crowd. VUT’s administration has suspended classes following the protest.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a student protest. While state authorities have a right to maintain security and order on campus, they must do so in ways that minimize the risk of death, injury, or harm to individuals and that respect institutional autonomy and human rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of violent force undermines institutional autonomy and democratic society generally.