Students in UF study abroad program robbed at gunpoint in South Africa

Students from the University of Florida were all robbed at a school in South Africa Monday morning. 

The students are at the University of Pretoria, near Johannesburg, as part of a three-week honors study abroad program.

UF officials say they went to a local school to visit a kindergarten class when a vehicle with six gunmen followed them inside the school compound. 

They apparently followed the UF students into the kindergarten class and held them at gunpoint, ordering them to hand over all their valuables. 

None of the students were hurt, but things continued to escalate.

“As the gunmen were leaving, some of the local residents came out to see what was going on to try and protect the students. And the gunman fired at them. One of them was grazed by a bullet and another was pistol-whipped, so our students then went to administer first aid to them,” said UF National Media Strategist Steve Orlando.

The locals are expected to be OK. 

The students have since met with counselors and officials from the U.S. Embassy. Three students are now coming home. The rest are staying through the end of the trip, which UF says will now be revised slightly. 

They say nothing like this has ever happened in the 10 years the university has offered this trip. 

“We’re so thankful that everything turned out the way it did, aside from it obviously being a very terrifying and traumatic experience. Thankfully everybody’s physically OK,” Orlando said.