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 28, 2023

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Other

Institution(s):Capricorn TVET College

Region & Country:Southern Africa | South Africa

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On February 28, 2023, students threw stones at security guard’s offices, set fire to at least one vehicle, and damaged other campus property during a demonstration at Capricorn TVET College (CTC).

Students reportedly demonstrated against an alleged shortage of textbooks and faculty and outstanding allowances. The demonstration reportedly turned violent when students threw stones at security guards. IN response, Police reportedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas, apparently to disperse the students. Some students were reportedly hospitalized for injuries caused by the rubber bullets. Windows in the security guard’s office were broken, the entrance to the campus was damaged, and a campus vehicle was burnt. Police arrested four students for attempting to steal campus property. CTC reportedly temporarily suspended academic activity following the violence.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the destruction of campus property and violence in the course of an on campus protest. While students have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they have a responsibility to exercise these rights peacefully and responsibly. Likewise, while authorities have an obligation to preserve public order, they must do so in a proportionate manner, taking care to respect and preserve relevant human rights including assembly and free expression. The destruction of campus property amid student protests harms the ability of higher education communities to carry out core academic activities and undermines institutional autonomy.

Sources:

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

https://www.capricornfm.co.za/seshego-tvet-postpones-classes-following-damage-to-its-property/

https://www.snl24.com/dailysun/news/protesting-students-cause-havoc-20230302

https://reviewonline.co.za/566332/seshego-tvet-students-released-on-warning-after-protest/