Stand-off over North West University Totius statue

Genevieve Quintal, News24

Potchefstroom - Tensions ran high at the University of the North West in Potchefstroom during a stand-off between white and black students over the feared removal of a statue of Afrikaans poet Totius.

Following a meeting with NWU Vice Chancellor Dan Kgwadi, where the issue of the statue was discussed, a group of white students surrounded Totius, in a bid to protect it, according to a student who was part of Reform PUK.

Black students stood in front of them singing struggle songs.

The white students protecting the statue, allegedly countered with "kyk hoe baie Pukke is ons hier".

Shortly after that, black students started marching around the campus, the student told News24.

NWU's Professor Johannes Froneman confirmed that there were students "protecting" the statue.

"A few hundred white students are hanging around there. There was a bit of a stand-off. but it was very peaceful and they [the black students] have left," he said.

Last week, Reform PUK handed over a memorandum to the university's management and asked them to respond by October 20.

Demands in the memorandum included removing the Totius statue, changing of the admission policy, reform of the SRC and introducing parallel medium at the institution.

Reform PUK met on Tuesday with Kgwadi, expecting him to respond to their demands.

A NWU student said Kgwadi did not give any concrete answers to the group's demands.

Froneman said Kgwadi listened to the students and answered their questions, however, he could not stand there and just accept the demands.

"The vice chancellor is not a rector... he can't just order things to change."