Police instructed the crowd to disperse, but students responded by throwing stones, bottles and sharp objects, said Warrant Officer Bradley Rawlinson.
He said police fired rubber bullets at the ground and managed to disperse the students.
Rawlinson denied reports that police had used stun grenades.
The vice-chancellor, Dr Mvuyo Tom, addressed the protesters at around 3pm.
“Everything is quiet now,” Rawlinson said.
Students had gathered from 8am to protest the lack of hot water and electricity in residences.
Students who witnessed the protests say that the root cause was the lack of reliable electricity at some of the residential houses on campus.
Students closed down the main entrance of the Forth Hare main campus and were met by armed police.
Luthando Mkhwelo a Fort Hare student who witnessed the protests said: “Students were shot at by police using rubber bullets and a residential officer, Singa, was hit.”
“One residence hasn’t had electricity in a while, I think a month. This is what the students are complaining about
“Students were burning stuff in the middle of the streets. Burning tree and tires and those sorts of things but there was no looting. They were not vandalising anything”
Another student Sikhulule Sinuka also said that a student had been hit by a rubber bullet but did know know who the student was.
“Some student was sent to hospital because he was shot in the nose,” said Sinuka.
“Police shot at the crowd and the students retaliated by throwing stones at the police.
“They burnt a car. I don’t know who the car belonged to.”
Sinuka said that majority of the campus students took part in the