Durban - Seven of the nine people arrested during violent protests at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus on Tuesday were not UKZN students, university spokesman, Lesiba Seshoka, said.
“The seven… were apprehended for trespassing as they are not students,” said Seshoka.
Lesiba also confirmed police and university security had raided campus residences and petrol bombs had been found in the R block after violent protests had erupted at about 5.30am.
Many of the protesters wore masks to conceal their identities as they barricaded the residences and nearby roads and prevented students from attending lectures.
“Burning trees were used to block the roads,” Seshoka said.
He said bins were burnt at the entrance of the Oval residence, while traffic had to be redirected via Varsity Drive after the closure of the campus’s Westwood Gate.
“Cars were stoned and damaged by the protesters,” said Seshoka.
He said a shuttle bus had been hijacked and used to blockade the road while a report had been received that a petrol bomb had been thrown in the central bus terminal area.
UKZN Vice-Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, on Tuesday appealed to students to end the protests and allow negotiations to get under way so the academic programme could be concluded.
He said the 2016 and 2017 academic years were now under threat.
But the university had devised an academic recovery programme to help students catch up and complete lectures, tutorials, tests and seminars on time.
“I humbly ask for your understanding and patience in allowing time for government and other stakeholders involved to deliberate on these matters and to come up with a rational outcome through the work of the presidential commission,” Van Jaarsveld said.
The university’s council had yet to make a decision on fee increases for next year, he said, and they and the SRC were exploring options to reach a satisfactory outcome for all.
“As much as we empathise with the student cause, as an institution we cannot condone the ongoing violent protest action, disruptions to the academic programme and especially not the acts of criminality such as arson,” said Van Jaarsveld.
He said no protest action was taking place at the university’s other campuses, but security had been bolstered. “We have a high court interdict in place preventing unlawful gatherings…protesters found to be in contravention of this interdict have been arrested.”