Stellenbosch students forcibly evicted from library occupation

    On Friday, students who had been occupying the JS Gericke library at Stellenbosch University were forcibly removed by private security. Some students reported that they were being beaten up and that some women were bleeding.

    Footage has emerged of private security attempting to close the metal shutters and evict students, while students battle to keep them open. Students also allege that security used pepper spray to disperse them.

    “Students were inside [the library] and some students were sitting in the doorway when security started removing the students in the doorway with pepper spray, they then threw some of the students out and then on the inside there was a scuffle around the doorway,” said Simone Cupido, a Stellenbosch student present at the occupation.

    During the scuffle with private security, students reported that one of them suffered from a seizure.

    “The security consistently started fighting with students around the doorway and one of our students had a seizure and they wouldn’t allow the door to be opened so that she could get medical attention and help,” said Cupido.

    Campus Health Services have confirmed the seizure and that medical personnel were dispatched to the scene.

    The confrontation came after the university delivered a letter on Friday morning ordering the occupying students to leave the library within five minutes as their right to be inside the library had been revoked by the university. The letter also stated that the students were contravening section 1 of the Trespass Act and that charges would be laid with the SAPS should students not vacate the building.


    The university’s spokesperson said the students’ occupation of the library was infringing on the rights of other students.

    Students have been occupying the library since Monday, calling for the university to support their calls for free education and for the Rector, Wim de Villiers, to speak to them personally. Students left the library on Thursday to regroup, then returned on Friday morning to re-occupy the space.

    It is not yet clear whether all the students have vacated the library or whether some remain locked inside. Viljoen also said that the library is closed but that no classes have been disrupted.

    According to a notice issued by the university, a meeting between students and the Dean of Students is scheduled for 1pm on Friday.

    Featured image via Twitter