Mxolisi Khumalo helps his friend Sibusiso Khumalo, a student at the Durban University of technology, to carry his luggage from a student residence yesterday. The university has been closed because of violent student protests, which started this week. Picture: Sibonelo Ncgobo

Durban - Violent protests continued at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) as hundreds of students packed their bags and left student residences before Thursday’s midday deadline.

The DUT ordered all students to vacate residences after it took a decision to suspend all lectures earlier this week.

Talks between the student representative council (SRC) and management were deadlocked on Wednesday after violent protests this week. A campus security official was found injured lying on the ground after students stormed into the Steve Biko campus and protested outside the offices of vice-chancellor Ahmed Bawa.

DUT spokesman Alan Khan said the security guard sustained a head and back injury in an attack by students who had illegally forced their way on to the campus.

“Paramedics arrived on the campus and the security officer was taken to a nearby hospital where he is recovering.”

Students, some from as far afield as Namibia, said they had spent thousands on accommodation, food, and registration fees.

Three Namibian students, who asked to be not named fearing victimisation, said the strike had left them in limbo

“After all of this (payments) we are being ordered to leave. We do not know if we should try to find temporary accommodation around town or go home,” said one. “What if we go home and are told on Monday that the university is open again? Where are we going to get the money to come back?” asked another.

Bawa apologised to students and parents for the inconvenience.

“The events of the last week deeply sadden me. The university tried very hard to protect your rights and its own rights to a good start to the 2014 academic year, but this was frustrated by an SRC that led a set of activities that turned violent and destructive. I shall hold the SRC responsible for this,” he said.

DUT SRC president Ayanda Ngidi said the SRC was prepared to go as far as it needed to make sure that students were not kicked out of residences and to reach an agreement with the institution.

Ngidi said the SRC would meet Professor Bawa today in the hope of putting a stop to the scheduled evictions.

Meanwhile, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) in uMlazi has received an additional R36 million from the Department of Higher Education.

“MUT is now able to assist students who applied and qualified for funding for 2014. There are currently 1 209 students who owe the University R13 million,” MUT’s spokeswoman Mbali Mkhize said.

The ANC Youth League’s provincial task team spokesman, Siboniso Duma, has described as “unfortunate” the DUT’s decision to kick students out of residences.

He accused Bawa of not caring for the students and called on management to sit down with the SRC.

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