The University of Pretoria broke out in disarray as student fought against the language policy introduced in the institution.
The chaos broke out when members of Afri Forum Youth allegedly interrupted the university’s preparations to meet with the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), and the EFF Student Command (EFFSC), ANC Youth League Secretary at UP, Samkele Cetyiwe asserted.
Cetyiwe further stated that the police and Security guards present at the scene tried to separate the groups but that the security guards only targeted the black students.
“Whenever we are facing the mob, we are the only ones getting pepper-sprayed. We have decided that tomorrow [Friday] we will start addressing issues of transformation. There won’t be any lectures tomorrow,”
“We were going to debate language policy. AfriForum managed to get into the meeting and disrupted proceedings. One thing led to another and a black student was hit by a white student,” he claimed.
A student who was at the ‘scene of the incidence narrated that fracas grew between different groups and subsequently one group entered a mathematics class in the engineering faculty and disturbed proceedings.
“They shouted ‘one language’. We were supposed to write a test but that was postponed. Our class is actually in English,” the student said.
Confirming the stand-off between members of the AfriForum Youth and the EFFSC, the university confirmed that no property was damaged.
“Extra security will be employed on campus tomorrow and the university will be open. No disruption to any academic activities, or any unlawful action such as violence or the vandalism of property will be tolerated,” UP spokesperson Anna-Retha Bouwer said.
Meanwhile, AfriForum Youth’s national co-ordinator Morne Mostert refuted claims that they caused the disruptions claiming that it was the EFF that protested, trying to intimidate AfriForum members.
He said he received invitation in his personal capacity to attend the meeting between student structures such as the EFFSC, YPA, and UPRising to discuss the university’s language policy which had been an issue to them as only 10% of the students understands English language which the institution use to teach.
“Students on campus said they wanted Afrikaans to remain as a mother tongue language. The meeting was cancelled and we handed over a memorandum to ask that the university should recognise Afrikaans and Sepedi as mother tongues to be taught,”
It did not make sense for everything to be taught in English as only 10% of students were English-speaking,
“We are just asking for mutual recognition and respect of Afrikaans and Sepedi. We want everyone to feel welcome at the university,” Mostert said.