Durban - Security at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus was beefed up at the weekend after a week of violent protests cost the university an estimated R30 million in damages.
Private security personnel armed with paintball guns were brought in by the university on Friday in an effort to protect its property. About 140 guards have been drafted to keep the calm at the campus.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s campuses at Westville, Pietermaritzburg and Howard College are closed due to a scheduled break, while resident students have been granted permission to remain on the campus residences after an instruction by the university management to evacuate by Friday was relaxed.
Windows have been shattered and doors broken at several buildings on the main campus, while a privately owned bus was set alight, and several other cars parked inside and outside the campus were vandalised amid violent protests by angry students.
Three campus security guards were also assaulted by students, one so badly that he had to be taken to hospital.
Campus SRC President Richard Mhlongo said people were quick to judge the actions of the students, while the “real criminals” – the university management – were diverting attention from their wrongs.
“The protest action is a result of the university wanting to financially burden already struggling students,” he said.
The students are protesting about issues including the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, fee increases and student accommodation.
UKZN spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said talks to resolve the issues were continuing with student leaders.
Seshoka confirmed investigations were under way into the criminal actions of students.