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: April 04, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Free State

Region & Country:Southern Africa | South Africa

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 4, 2022, student protests on the campus of the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, gave way to a violent confrontation with police.

Students had gathered on the campus of the University of the Free State to protest a delay in the distribution of financial aid payments. Police arrived, and in the course of dispersing the protesters, reportedly shot two students with stun grenades. Later the same day, two campus buildings were set on fire and nearly destroyed; the university announced that a student had been arrested in connection with the act a few days later.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during an on-campus student protest. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain order and safety, they must exercise restraint and ensure that their actions are proportionate and do not endanger members of the campus community. Likewise, while students have rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they must exercise those rights peacefully and responsibly, refraining from destruction of campus property.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)