Lectures suspended at UKZN Edgewood campus after fiery night of violence
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Durban - Lectures at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Edgewood campus were suspended on Tuesday after students went on the rampage on Monday and torched a a kitchen next to a lecture hall.
It is the only campus where the academic programme has been suspended, UKZN spokesman, Ashton Bodrick said.
He said protesters committed acts of arson and damaged property on the Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses on Monday night and in the early hours Tuesday morning.
"At the Pietermaritzburg campus, protesters threw stones and bottles at vehicles on a public road and set fire to a guardhouse as well as a kitchen - attached to a student examination hall. Fire and Emergency Services managed to extinguish the fire. The exam hall did not catch alight. At the Westville campus, protesters set fire to a section of the gymnasium and a mobile office. University Risk Management Services (RMS), Public Order Policing, SAPS, and Emergency Services worked throughout the night to safeguard the campuses and apprehend suspects," he said.
He added that police are investigating all incidents of assault, destruction of property and arson.
Several arrests have been made since the start of the protest action, Bodrick said.
Protests have been raging at the institution since last week. Students have been fighting for the abolition of historical debt and having to pay 15% of their debt. Student leaders have argued that poor students cannot afford to pay the 15%, which often runs into thousands of rands.
UKZN said it already had debt of R1.7 billion at the end of 2019. It also said it had capped the maximum amount of money that can be paid towards student debt at R45 000.
SRC president Sifiso Simelane said the university could generate money by cutting down on expenditure. He said the management could take salary cuts to reduce costs.
As the protests continued, students were engaged in running battles with police and private security at the university’s Edgewood campus on Monday. The violence resulted in classes being shut down for the day.
“The university strongly denounces all acts of criminal behaviour. All incidents of assault, destruction of property and arson are being investigated by University Risk Management Services and SAPS. Perpetrators will be apprehended and handed over to SAPS for prosecution,” said Bodrick.
The violence was also condemned by parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education, science and technology. Chairperson Philly Mapulane said: “It is a selfish act that robs future generations of a valuable asset simply because of disagreements with the university management. We call on law enforcement agencies to act to protect public properties,” he said.