Mzamiseni Majozi, 24, Khanyeze Mbambo, 23, Buntu Faku, 22, and Nkosinathi Maqutya, 22, appeared briefly in Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wedneday where they all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The matter was postponed to August 21 for further investigations.
Representing the four, Ayanda Khanyile said they were first-time offenders and had no pending cases.
Khanyile said the students were all unemployed and could not afford bail. He asked that they all be released with a warning.
Khanyile added the students were currently living at university residences and did not pose a flight risk.
Prosecutor Mohamed Riaz Hoosen did not oppose bail even after magistrate Kevin Bruorton asked if there were assurances that the students would not contravene the court order again.
Earlier this year, DUT obtained a court order barring students from protesting within its campuses.
Alan Khan, senior director at DUT corporate affairs, said the students were detained by security guards after being caught disturbing lectures on the Steve Biko campus.
They were handed over to Berea police who kept them in holding cells overnight.
Outside court, the students said they were well and would not issue a statement until the case was finalised.
A small group of DUT students were in court to support the four, including suspended student representative council president Sesiyanda Godlimpi.
Godlimpi said he would attend a disciplinary tribunal at DUT on Tuesday to make presentations on why his suspension should be lifted.
The DUT SRC released a statement condemning the arrests and accusing the university of using “old apartheid strategies to suppress engagements”.
“The students’ protest is an ongoing programme until all issues are resolved. It can’t be business as usual while students have issues,” it reads.
Meanwhile, University of KwaZulu-Natal vice-chancellor Professor Nana Poku issued a scathing statement following a third day of protests at the university’s campuses.
“That your fellow students should be intimidated and your teachers assaulted - the men and women who have dedicated their professional lives to the education of your generation - is shameful: lacking in principle and pride as well as common human decency,” she said.
Classes were again cancelled at UKZN’s Westville campus after about 500 students embarked on a strike, clashing with security guards and police.
Police said students set fire to a lecture hall and a case of public violence is being investigated.
Ashton Bodrick, executive director at UKZN’s corporate relations division, said the university would review video footage to assist the police in catching the perpetrators.
UKZN students received notification that classes were not suspended and were expected to resume today.