Protesters at the University of Pretoria on Tuesday accused police of attacking them without provocation.
One worker, who asked not to be named, told News24 they were singing and dancing when police started shooting rubber bullets at them.
“We are just calling for permanent jobs and a basic salary of R10 000. We don’t have weapons and we were not fighting with them. We don’t understand why they shot us,” he said.
Another claimed they were walking on the campus when police opened fire on them without warning.
“We were walking behind the police when they stopped us and started shooting. We only had placards demanding a living wage, but they just shot us.”
Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant Kay Makhubela said no rubber bullets were used.
“Temporary employees at the universities were protesting. They were requested to move off campus and they refused. Police had to use stun grenades to disperse them.”
Makhubela said the incident took place before noon and that after the stun grenades were fired, the crowd dispersed.
EFF student command leader Mpho Morolane said they were given permission to be on campus.
“There was an agreement with the university management, particularly the vice chancellor, that there will be a discussion regarding insourcing, but as we entered, police started using stun grenades and rubber bullets,” he said.
A number of people were injured and had to receive medical attention. Makhubela said police were not aware of any injuries.
By the afternoon, hundreds of people were gathered outside the university. Another group was on campus negotiating with management.
“In the light of ongoing protest action at various universities in Gauteng, the University of Pretoria has been closed… to ensure the safety of staff, students and property. Protest action against outsourcing started at the university yesterday [Monday],” the university said in a statement.
Talks between management and various groups about employing contract workers were continuing.
Morolane said workers would go home on Tuesday afternoon and return on Wednesday morning to continue protesting. News24