Police had to be called to the University of the North West’s Mafikeng campus after students pelted people who had gathered for a graduation ceremony with stones in the aftermath of a race row that erupted on the social internet site Facebook.  

“They disrupted the graduation ceremony at 11am, but police managed to restore order,” said university spokesman Louis Jacobs.

Police spokeswoman Constable Boitumelo Mokubung said officers had to fire rubber bullets at the crowd after they began throwing stones at police and damaged a police vehicle.

“There were about 500 students involved but none of them was injured. However, two of our officers got injured, although not seriously.” Another march by students in Potchefstroom took place without incident. “It was an organised march by the SA Students Congress and the student’s representative council of the Potchefstroom campus,” Jacobs said.

“Both organisations handed over a memorandum condemning any form of racism to the representative of the vice chancellor.”

The march was in reaction to a group that surfaced on the Facebook social network site weeks ago.

Seven students had since been identified for pasting racially abusive words and comments on the site, called “ek laaik nie n’ houtkop [a derogatory reference to blacks] nie, sou what”.

The students had been summoned to a disciplinary hearing for contravening a section of the university’s statute.