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 24, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Limpopo

Region & Country:Southern Africa | South Africa

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 24, 2020, University of Limpopo (UL) students reportedly violently clashed during a campus protest.

Beginning on January 27, 2020, students from a number of South African universities have held protests to demand increased student funding, the cancellation of students’ historical debt, and that students carrying debt be permitted to enroll. Several of the protests have led to violent clashes between students, campus security personnel, and police.

On February 24, UL students reportedly held a protest over alleged delays in registration and funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, and a lack of Wi-Fi on campus. In videos posted on Twitter, students can be seen throwing rocks and sticks at each other. It is not clear what sparked the violence. Students who posted the videos allege that the clashes were between members of two opposing political parties, the South African Students Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters. In response to the incident, UL suspended all academic activities scheduled for the rest of the day.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a campus protest. While students have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise their rights peacefully and responsibly. Violent clashes during a campus protest undermine institutional autonomy and democratic society generally.