UFS management calls to God, but protesters say prayer won't help
While one group of University of the Free State management and students prayed on Tuesday morning, another group of students held a silent protest outside the venue.
University spokesperson Lacea Loader said the campus ministry forum organised the prayer in a bid to unite students after days of disruptions.
The silent protesters however said prayer would not solve their problems.
“At this point we feel oppressed, and it is not through prayer that we are going to be assisted. Government and the institution just showed us that we are alone,” said Kgosi Sigo.
“We have become voiceless and intimidated and the whole of last week we feared for our academic lives,” he said.
Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed.
“You can’t pray away our oppression as black students. We feel like the prayer is just a front and we are victimised as students."
Last Monday, a group of protesters who apparently wanted to highlight the plight of outsourced workers disrupted a Varsity Cup rugby match at Shimla Park Stadium. Spectators ran onto the field and attacked them.
The following morning, EFF protesters vandalised and pulled down a statue of Charles Robberts Swart on campus.
CR Swart was the last governor general of the Union of South Africa until 1961, and president of the Republic of South Africa from 1961 to 1967.
Protesters burnt tyres at the foot of the statue, and used hammers and rocks to bring it down.
On Thursday, security guards were brought in to protect the statue of Marthinus Theunis Steyn from further vandalism. Steyn was the sixth and last president of the Orange Free State from 1896 to 1902.