As students gathered and marched peacefully to occupy their administration building – renamed Winnie Mandela House – in solidarity with the #FeesMustFall movement at the University of Stellenbosch, police responded with violent force.
The photo of 21-year-old student, Jodi Williams, in tears amidst the protesters, expresses the pent up emotions, frustration and hurt that led the students to campaign.
“Everyday on this campus and in this town, black bodies are disregarded and black voices are silenced, ignored and invalidated,” said Williams in explaining what was happening in the photo. What began as a peaceful demonstration quickly turned aggressive.
As the police entered the building to arrest the students, the students accepted their fate and called for passive arrests.
Unfortunately, the result was anything but diplomatic.
“I was shoved and trampled on by policemen. I could not believe that the police would respond so violently to students who occupied a building peacefully,” said Williams.
The calls for transformation at the university, dubbed the #OpenStellenbosch movement, began earlier this year.
The need for this kind of movement became starkly evident in the treatment of students by the police and university administration during the campus protests over the past few weeks.
Jodi says she was left emotionally traumatised by the reactions of the police during their peaceful campaign.
Images by Nigel Zhuwaki