Jesuit shot protecting students taking refuge in church

A Jesuit shot in the face was trying to block police from entering the church where student protesters had taken refuge.

Father Graham Pugin had his hands up when he was shot at close range with rubber bullets.

Though there has not been an official report on his condition, a video shows Fr. Pugin, his mouth bloodied and dripping on his alb, walking with other students to receive care.

Pugin was a facilitator, along with other clergy and former student leaders, in working towards an agreement among students, management, and other stakeholders at South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand.

The students have been protesting for four weeks about next year’s proposed eight percent tuition fee increase. They are demanding free education.

They say the rate hikes are discriminatory against black students.

Black families’ average income is much less than white families’.

Student protests have included disrupting classes, throwing stones and bottles at police and security guards and setting a bus on fire.

A South African bishops’ conference statement extended their “sincere sympathy and prayers for a speedy recovery” for Pugin who was “offering refuge to frightened students.”

They added that while they support the students’ right to demand a good and affordable education, they do not condone the violence and looting associated with the protests.

The bishops said the best course forward is for students and educators to continue with the academic year while working out a compromise for the future.

“… The Government [must] ensure that this academic year is completed in peace … A compromise must be considered as the huge financial demands of university free education cannot be found instantaneously.”


  • Ignatian Solidarity Network
  • Image: eNCA


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