A security room vandalised by the students. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The eThekwini Cluster Community Police Forum has on Friday urged universities students not to destroy or damage university property when protesting.

Cluster chairperson, Imtiaz Syed, said that while everyone has the right to protest it must be done where violence is not the order of the day. 

“In the last few days we saw vehicles set alight, continued threats of violence, one student lost his life and the police were threatened as some officers were pelted with bricks and cars were damaged.”

Syed said that it was unfortunate that protests at universities reached such dangerous levels where lives came under threat. 

“We send our condolences to the family of the student who lost his life after he was allegedly shot by a security guard. The circumstances of the shooting have not been established but remains under investigation. This was an unfortunate incident and we appeal for calm. We do not want more lives to be lost,” said Syed.

A memorial service will be held for slain Durban University of Technology (DUT) student Mlungisi Madonsela at 1pm on Tuesday, with the venue to be communicated by the institution on Monday.

DUT would open on Monday to resume with registration, National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding queries and housing queries, but the academic programme remained suspended, vice-chancellor professor Thandwa Mthembu said in a statement released on Friday.

Employees were expected to report for duty on Monday despite the suspension of the academic programme, he said. 

Madonsela was shot at the institution’s Steve Biko campus on Tuesday, allegedly during a scuffle with security guards, and later died in hospital. Two DUT staff members were also injured during the altercation and had to be hospitalised. The husband of a staff member was also seriously injured. 

At the time, police said about 30 students – hurling rocks and bricks - tried to enter an administration block on the afternoon Madonsela was killed. Two security guards alleged to have been involved in the shooting were suspended by their company pending an investigation. Police investigations are continuing.

Syed said that while the protests continued the rule of law should be respected and recognised. 

“We appeal to university management to consider the student representative council’s call for a meeting. It is imperative that these issues are quickly resolved to avert a long and drawn out systematic protest that adversely affects studies and individual lives,” he said.

Syed said that he remained concerned that public servants such as the police and Metro were coming under attack by students. 

“The police and Metro are there to keep the peace. If violence breaks out, both state agencies have to ensure that the situation is quelled and order and safety are restored. There are many innocent victims who get caught in the scuffle of the protests, their safety must be ensured,” said Syed.

African News Agency (ANA)