Africa

South Africa's UFS shuts after rugby race clash

Football match Image copyright Shaka Sisulu
Image caption Images of white spectators kicking black protesters were spread on social media

A South African university has temporarily closed after black protesters who had disrupted a rugby match were beaten up by white spectators on Monday.

The protesters were demanding an end to the outsourcing of cleaning jobs at the University of Free State (UFS).

On Tuesday, students destroyed the statue of an apartheid-era politician.

A wave of race-related protests have hit South African campuses over the last year.

Many black people say they feel marginalised at the universities.

The University of Free State said in a statement that unrest started on Monday when a group of protesters moved on to the field in the middle of a Varsity Cup rugby match between students from UFS and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

Image copyright Chipsta / YouTube
Image caption Protesters walked on to the pitch as a rugby game was taking place

Subsequently the protesters were assaulted by some spectators who ran on the field, the statement added.

It said there were no major injuries.

Both teams agreed to continue the match an hour after the situation had calmed down, said the UFS team said.

But protests continued on Tuesday as students were filmed destroying the statue of Charles Robberts Swart, the president of white-ruled South Africa from 1961 to 1967.

The statue was burned before it was thrown into a pond.

The university, in Bloemfontein city, cancelled all classes until 25 February on two campuses.

Cleaners, who are employed by private companies, have complained about pay cuts.

Students have backed them, and have demanded an end to outsourcing.

UFS has been hit by racial tension in the past.

In 2008, four white students posted a video online showing five black university workers being made to kneel and forced to eat food which had apparently been urinated on by one of the students.

Apartheid, which legalised racial discrimination against the majority black population, ended in South Africa in 1994 with the election of the first democratic government led by Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013.

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