Masked men on UKZNs Westville campus, in this picture posted on Twitter by a student, @Cobhoza, shows the police approaching in the background and the masked men falling back.

Durban - FOUR students were arrested at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Westville campus on Monday in connection with violent protests that disrupted the first day of university for many.

From around 7am, unknown masked men – wearing caps, and with bandannas over their mouths – ordered students to get off campus.

Lesiba Seshoka, executive director of corporate relations at UKZN, said some lectures were disrupted, and others cancelled, at Westville and Edgewood campuses after protest action by students.

“Four students were arrested by the SAPS for contravening the Regulation of Gatherings Act and the high court interdict.”

On Wednesday, UKZN obtained a high court interdict and restraining order that protects the university against unlawful protests, mass action, demonstrations, disruptive gatherings, or any violence against people or property. The following day, seven students were arrested at the Pietermaritzburg campus after alleged protest action.

Pietermaritzburg campus student representative council (SRC) president Lungani Nhlenyama told the Daily News on Monday that the students were arrested for public violence, although he denies any violent action.

He insists students were campaigning for election registration and encouraging students to vote.

Nhlenyama said: “We were carrying ANC posters and singing (last week). University management didn’t understand and threatened to arrest us.”

However, Seshoka said UKZN was in possession of video footage which showed that the students were protesting and not campaigning for elections.

Commenting on on Monday’s protests, Seshoka said police and the university’s risk management services were called to monitor the situation at Edgewood, where about 200 students were disrupting lectures.

“We are unaware of the reasons for the protests as these students have not raised their concerns through the correct channels.” He said offenders in breach of the interdict would be charged for contempt of court, and the university would not withdraw the charges.

University management has been in discussions with central and campus SRCs on various issues, particularly the problem of student funding.

Captain Thulani Zwane, spokesman for the Saps, confirmed that four students, aged between 21 and 24, were arrested and charged for public violence.

Lectures were expected to resume on Tuesday.

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Daily News