Three KZN universities suspend lectures due to protests
DURBAN - Three KwaZulu-Natal tertiary institutions have suspended lectures as protest action has continued unabated since the start of the academic year.
The University of Zululand (UniZul), Durban University of Technology (DUT) and Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) have closed their campuses indefinitely.
On Monday, nine students from MUT were arrested at the institution’s uMlazi campus during protests.
The students are demanding improved living conditions and solutions to the poor administration of financial aid funding, including living allowances.
There was a strong police presence at the institution.
According to KZN police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala, about 70 students started protesting outside the institution at 8.30am.
“Five suspect have been arrested for public violence,” said Gwala. A sixth student is understood to have been arrested later in the day.
Protests started early on Monday, with tyres set alight and placed on roads outside the institution.
But police and the fire department soon had the area cleared, with students then taking their protests into the campus area.
While in the campus grounds, students starting throwing rocks and bricks at police, who responded with tear gas. The situation remained volatile, with groups of students dissipating and then regrouping.
MUT deputy vice-chancellor of teaching and learning, Prof Marcus Ramogale, said they had lost three weeks to the academic year and that a “catch up” plan would have to be implemented.
On Sunday night, a car was set alight at UniZul.
Gwala said a case of malicious damage to property was opened at the Mtunzini police station.
“According to the complainant, he parked his institution-owned vehicle at the university parking lot and went to his room and when he returned, the vehicle was on fire,” she said.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, UniZul said that owing to violent activities on and off campus in the past two days, students were required to vacate the university campuses in KwaDlangezwa and Richards Bay.
Students were given until on Monday afternoon to vacate the campuses.
On Sunday night, students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) threw bed frames, mattresses and other objects from windows at a residence on Hospital Road in the South Beach area. They, too, were demanding improved living conditions and unblocking of students who have not been able to pay their loans.
However, lectures at UKZN continued as normal on Monday.
At noon on Monday, more than 800 DUT students marched to the city hall with a list of demands that were almost identical to those of protesting students at other institutions.
They handed over a memorandum to eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede’s advisor, Mlungisi Ntombela.
They demanded that Gumede and the National Prosecuting Authority fast-track the arrest of security guards who were involved in the death of DUT student Mlungisi Madonsela.
Police confirmed that no arrests had been made.
In their one-page memorandum, the students also demanded that Xcellent Security Services be removed as a service provider to the university.
“Our memorandum is very simple. We want justice for Mlu,” SRC president Sesiyanda Godlimpi said.
More than 100 police officers escorted the students from DUT’s Steve Biko campus to the Durban city hall.
Godlimpi said students would allow the academic programme to resume only once the issue of student accommodation was resolved and the more than 3500 students blocked from DUT’s systems be allowed to register.
DUT said in a statement last night that the Executive Committee of the university’s Senate had decided to suspend the academic programme at all five DUT campuses in Durban until further notice due to renewed student protests on Monday. The academic programme at the two campuses in Pietermaritzburg will continue as normal.
DUT management said it was continuing to engage with the SRC.
- THE MERCURY