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: March 02, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Zululand

Region & Country:Southern Africa | South Africa

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 2, 2020, students reportedly set fire to a police vehicle during a protest at the University of Zululand (UNIZULU).

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 and authorities and the destruction of campus property.

On March 2, UNIZULU students at the KwaDlangezwa campus held a protest over a number of funding and budgetary concerns, including the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) budget for postgraduate students and the appointment of the SRC administrator. During the protest, students reportedly blockaded roads around campus and threw stones at cars passing by. Police were reportedly deployed to the campus to disperse protesting students. Students reportedly threw a petrol bomb at a police car, setting it on fire. In response to the violence, UNIZULU indefinitely closed the KwaDlangezwa campus and ordered students to vacate their dormitories.

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. State authorities have a responsibility to protect higher education communities, investigate threats, and to hold perpetrators responsible. Such incidents undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.