UKZN students arrested in protest blitz

Riot police and private security swooped on a residence at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus in an attempt to quell the student protests which started last Friday.

In the midst of this, the university is also investigating a threat made against the lives of Indian and white students on its Facebook page.

Private security and police remove one of many students from UKZN's residence where stones were hurled the previous day. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo. Credit: INLSA

A parent who saw the post on Wednesday said she feared for her daughter’s safety.

The on-campus residences have been the site of chaos this week, and the charred washing machines, microwaves, tyres and fire extinguishers in the road on Wednesday were evidence of the violence that erupted on the campus on Tuesday.

The windows of the university’s risk management building and of two of its vehicles were also smashed on Tuesday evening.

In the wake of the stoning of a fireman and the arrest of four students for public violence, UKZN obtained a court interdict prohibiting students from protesting on the campus.

The interdict was enforced on Wednesday morning. The university is also having unregistered students removed from its residences.

Lectures continue to be suspended, with some students who live on-campus returning home to their panicked parents.

Numerous students were arrested on Wednesday, while onlookers jeered. Some were released, but four remained in custody.

According to the university, the campus SRC president, Lucky Nzama, has been arrested for assault. The police could not confirm that this was the charge against the honours student.

The SRC’s demands are that funding be made available for over 1 000 students, and that another building be leased to provide housing for more students.

Students whom the Mercury spoke to said they were willing to sacrifice their education to fight for students’ rights.

Meanwhile, the single mother of a third-year psychology student said she was terrified for her daughter to return to the campus because of the Facebook threat.

Supposedly sent by a student, it states that all Indian students on campus will be “wiped out”.

“Don’t come otherwise you will go straight to heaven,” it says. “We don’t need whites and Indians at UKZN,” another post said.

The mother said that if it was indeed a student who had made the threat, they needed to be disciplined by both their parents and the university.

The university said: “With immediate effect, all racist remarks will be removed. The protest on Westville campus has nothing to do with race, gender or social class. All those making racial remarks will be dealt with accordingly. Racial remarks do nothing but incite hatred and will do nothing to solve the problems on campus.”

Lectures at UKZN Westville will resume “once management is assured of stability” and students would be informed accordingly via SMS and Facebook, the university said. - The Mercury