Durban – The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) suspended lectures on Monday amidst chaos caused by protesting students at its Westville campus, who set alight a security vehicle, threatened non-protesting students and stoned police.
Students at universities in the province have called for a total shutdown of institutions from Monday, the official start of the academic year, over National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) payments and slow registrations.
Protests are also taking place at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) in Umlazi.
At UKZN’s Edgewood College campus in Pinetown, students could be seen dragging bins into roads and overturning them in a bid to stop traffic in the early hours of the morning.
A vehicle had also allegedly been set alight at UKZN’s Howard College campus, although this could not be independently confirmed at the time of publication.
In a statement released on Monday, UKZN’s acting executive director for corporate relations, Normah Zondo, said the academic programmes at all UKZN campuses were suspended “with immediate effect until further notice”.
“University management has received a memorandum of grievances from the UKZN Student Representative Council (SRC). The suspension will allow management space to engage with student leadership and address matters whilst ensuring the safety and security of all concerned,” said Zondo.
Non-protesting students at UKZN’s Westville campus told African News Agency (ANA) they had been threatened by protesting students.
A heavy police presence was at the campus and teargas was deployed as protesters threw rocks and stones at police.
In a statement issued on Sunday regarding an SRC mass meeting at MUT on Monday, the institution said it had “noted with concern” messages of incitement being shared by students across various social media platforms.
MUT’s senior director for marketing and communications, Mbali Mkhize, said in the statement that the SRC had requested a meeting with management to provide feedback on NSFAS allocation “and other registration related matters”.
“These messages are contrary to the discussions between MUT executive management and the SRC leadership and do not seem to have been posted by the SRC.
“There seems to be individuals who are determined to dissuade the SRC from leading the student body and are even unwilling to accept gains made by the SRC in trying to work with executive management to make the registration process seamless and timely,” said Mkhize.
Police had not responded to questions at the time of publication.
African News Agency (ANA)