Rubber bullets fly at TUT

27/01/2016. Police maintain heavey presence at TUT after they fired rubber bullets and tear gases at students and striking TUT workers. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

27/01/2016. Police maintain heavey presence at TUT after they fired rubber bullets and tear gases at students and striking TUT workers. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Published Jan 28, 2016

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Pretoria - A clash broke out between striking workers and students at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) on Wednesday, forcing police to fire rubber bullets to defuse the situation.

Members of the South African Student Congress (Sasco) had demanded that outsourced workers suspend their strike and allow the registration process to take place. But, the outsourced workers refused to stop their three-week strike and sought to continue with their protest under the banner of #outsourcingmustfall.

Workers’ spokesman Vusi Mahlangu said the students demanded that they postpone the strike until registration had taken place. “What they are saying is that we need to postpone our hunger. We can’t postpone hunger because we have been hungry for the past 18 years. It is ridiculous,” he said.

He said the workers had vowed to defy the court interdict obtained by the university on Tuesday, barring them from protesting on TUT campuses. The court interdict prevented protesters from blocking access to TUT, or from engaging in any protest action within 150m of any university property.

Economic Freedom Fighters command leader Mpho Marolane blamed the Sasco members for having started the altercation. He said the workers were sitting in front of the campus entrance when a group of Sasco members approached them and pelted them with stones.”Police fired rubber bullets and threw teargas at the clashing groups after the workers had retaliated,” he said.

On Tuesday, the arts and Arcadia campuses were also shut down after disruptions by protesters, resulting in the university obtaining a court interdict.

University spokeswoman Willa de Ruyter said: “We are aware that one of our members was injured in the shooting and it is a very unfortunate situation.”

She couldn’t say whether the institution would be open on Thursday. She said an emergency meeting would be called to assess the situation.

“The university has obtained a court order to stop the protest at the TUT campuses and in view of the order, the public order policing are at the campus to maintain law and order,” she said.

Sasco TUT president Nhlanhla Tshabalala denied that students belonging to the organisation did anything wrong. He said the workers were in the wrong by violating the court order. “Students only reacted when the workers started hurling stones at them. We never started any violence. We can’t beat our parents. However, we can’t allow a situation where people are invading our campus and disrupt the registration process,” he said.

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