Students look through the windows at the remains of the Science Center at the North-West University in Mahikeng South Africa, (also known as Mafikeng) on Feb. 25, 2016. Protesting students burned down several buildings on the campus Wednesday,  forcing the evacuation and indefinite closure till further notice a spokesman said Thursday. (AP)

A university in South Africa shut down indefinitely Thursday after student protesters set fire to several buildings, burning them down and forcing the evacuation of campus.

Protests over racial issues such as statues and other symbols of the country’s divided history, as well as tuition and student housing, have spread at universities across South Africa, just as they have in the U.S. — but with far more violence. At some universities, students protested the use of Afrikaans as an official language, just as they did during apartheid, frustrated that decades after the end of minority-white rule of the country more change was not evident.

A spokesman for North-West University in Mahikeng did not immediately respond to messages Thursday morning, but the university posted a statement explaining that students had been sent home for their own safety and that it would take “considerable period of time to restore operations.”


A student walks through the remains of the Science Center at the University of the North-West University in Mahikeng, South Africa, on Feb. 25.  (AP)

Problems began when protesters interrupted a student government meeting at which new leaders were to be inaugurated.

On social media, some students said the new leaders had been picked by the administration.

Demonstrations began outside the hall, but protesters then interrupted the meeting with shouting and singing. When a suspended student leader spoke, private security guards tried to break up the crowd with rubber bullets and tear gas. Students threw stones at the guards, according to the university statement, then later began to set fire to a motorcycle and trailer. Some students were likely hurt in the clashes, according to the university. Students looted the cafeteria.

“Students went on to set fire to various buildings on the campus, of which the administration building was the main target,” according to the university statement. “This building was completely destroyed, along with all official records. Damages are estimated to run into millions of rands.”

On social media people shared photos, and shock, from campus.

https://twitter.com/4everSiya/status/702747494892105728


Students and a security guard  look through the entrance at the remains of the Science Center at the North-West University in Mahikeng South Africa on Feb. 25.   (AP)

Students leave the campus at the North-West University in Mahikeng, South Africa, (also known as Mafikeng) on Feb. 25. Protesting students burned down several buildings on the campus Wednesday forcing the evacuation and indefinite closure till further notice a spokesman said Thursday. (AP)