Protests and arrests plague KZN universities

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KZN student protests erupt

A recent surge in student protests in KwaZulu-Natal has resulted in clashes with police and class disruptions at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the Durban University of Technology (DUT).

UKZN shut down it’s Westville campus as students protests continued this week. A UKZN SRC spokesman said university management met with student leaders on Friday but the vice-chancellor was absent and no decisions could be made without him. Students clashed with campus security on Tuesday at the Howard and Westville campuses and forced fellow students out of lecture halls. Police reported that students were throwing stones and had damaged a civilian car on the Westville campus. The protests began last week in response to management not addressing grievances including an extension of the registration period, issues with NSFAS and the poor state of residences, although the registration extension has since been dealt with.

A mass meeting at The Durban University of Technology (DUT) on Monday (July 22) ended in chaos as police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of protesters. Economic Freedom Fighter Student Command (EFFSC) chairperson Buntu Faku was arrested by the police but was later released in the afternoon. Another mass meeting was canceled yesterday (Tuesday July 23) after four EFFSC members, including Faku, were arrested by the DUT Student Protection Services. The arrests were made as the students were in contravention of a legal order obtained in February barring students from protesting or marching within 150 metres of university property.

While student leadership at both UKZN and DUT promise more disruptions and protests, other students are feeling let down. An honours student at DUT said that those not taking part in the demonstrations were left in the dark or caught off-guard. “It’s not the best time to not be actively on campus and in lectures. Because it’s done nine out of 10 times, without being fully explained to students, it’s very confusing. As much as it’s liberating the rights of others – it’s infringing on mine. The SRC isn’t just for the people that need to strike,” the student told East Coast radio. Classes are continuing at all DUT campuses so far.

Update: Statement from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)

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