Pietermaritzburg – Classes and exams were disrupted at the Durban and Pietermaritzburg campus today as students boycotted classes rejecting Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's announcement this week.
At the Pietermaritzburg campus a student was wounded in the arm by what appeared to be a teargas cylinder. Student protesters were also stoning vehicles on Alan Paton Drive, the university said.
The female student was taken to hospital, leaving tensions mounting between her colleagues and the riot police.
Owami Dladla, one of the student leaders who spoke to the Daily News said that they were “shutting down the campus” and no lectures would continue until the powers that be heed their call for free education.
“We will not back down. If the police want to treat us like animals, we will retaliate. We are fighting for a cause and our calls for free education will be heard. Our blood is being spilled for what we believe in,” he said, following the shooting.
On Thursday afternoon there was a strong police presence at the Howard College campus as some students, gathered in small groups and tried to chant songs.
The protests were quickly disrupted by police in riot gear, but two students, one holding a placard inscripted with “we are here to study, don't shoot”, were not moved by the riot police.
Another emotional student, a woman, walked up to armed police and pleaded with them to drop their guns and join the protest as their fee free education protest was for them too.
She said: “You are going to shoot me for what. You are going to shoot me with rubber bullets, we are not violent. Please stop this,” she said.
The students said they were willing to boycott classes until their call for free higher education is heeded.
It appeared police had abandoned their pursuits as the students, a group of less than 200 fled, without performing any arrests.
The UKZN spokesperson, Lesiba Seshoka, said in a statement that classes at the Edgewood, Nelson Mandela Medical School and Westville campus had not been affected.
He confirmed tests had been disrupted at Howard College and Pietermaritzburg campuses.
On Wednesday evening three store rooms and an electricity sub-station at the University of Zululand (Unizulu) were set alight. The store rooms were completely destroyed, said university spokesman Gcina Nhleko earlier today.
Nhleko said the sub-station’s perimeter fence had been cut and the fire started outside.