Lesiba Seshoka
Lesiba Seshoka

Edgewood students clash with police

By SIHLE MLAMBO Time of article published Feb 12, 2014

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Durban - Another round of protest action started up again ton Wednesday morning at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Edgewood campus.

Yesterday four students were arrested at the campus when about 150 protesters tried to disrupt classes.

At Westville campus today police were present and there was a fridge that was set alight.

A car had been vandalised and one building had its windows broken last night.

At Edgewood at about 10am police engaged a small group of protesters, between 50 and 100, who scattered into different groups. Police told them that their gathering was illegal as university had a court interdict against illegal protests.

The police also warned them that they would arrest the protesters if they did not adhere to police instructions to either go to class or go home. Media was also asked to leave the campus by the university management risk services.

When the Daily News left campus, police and risk services were in pursuit of the students. It is unclear if any arrests were made.

Earlier this morning, protesting students had pelted police with stones.

A senior member from risk services addressed the students and appealed for them to listen to police. He told the group that they could not solve their problems by protesting like that.

He told them if they protested violently the university would not listen to them.

The students are protesting against the allocation of NSFAS funding. The students told Daily News that they did not trust the Student Representative Council (SRC). They alleged that the SRC was being coerced into not instituting strike action and that they were “scared to be arrested”.

One student said he was told by the university to pay R35 000 by February 21 or he could not return to the university.

The students threatened not to vote in the national elections if they were not addressed directly by Minister Blade Nzimande.

The group - who support different political student bodies - said the protest was not politically motivated or personal against the SRC, but prompted by NSFAS issues.

Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said the arrested students were aged between 18 and 23, and were to appear today at the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court, to face charges of public violence.

University spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the students were arrested for contravening a high court interdict, which protected the university “against unlawful, violent and disruptive gatherings and mass action”.

Police dispersed a small group at the university’s Howard College campus on Tuesday.

“Students are assured that lectures are continuing on all five campuses of the university, including the Edgewood campus. The university has beefed up security on campus, and measures will be taken to ensure that teaching and learning remain uninterrupted,” said Seshoka.

Peace has been restored at the Westville campus, where masked protesters armed with sticks and bricks brought the university to a standstill on Monday.

When the Daily News visited the university on Tuesday, police minibuses and water cannon vehicles patrolled the campus as students carried on peacefully with their lectures after a disrupted start to the year on Monday.

The four students who were arrested after the action on Monday were released due to insufficient evidence, said National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson-Kara.

Westville campus student representative council president Langelihle Lukhozi said the SRC became aware of the protest only on Monday morning as students burnt tyres, toppled bins and flung bricks, damaging university property.

Lukhozi said students were unhappy about a lack of funding for returning students. The SRC would meet management to address the matter, he said.

Seshoka reminded students that the university had obtained a restraining order last week protecting it against unlawful protests or violence at the entrance and premises of the UKZN campuses.

Daily News

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