UKZN suspends lectures after cop, students hurt in violent protests

2014-09-04 15:01

Lectures at the University of KwaZulu-Natal were suspended today after at least three people were injured when protesters and police clashed on the Westville campus in Durban.

“The Westville campus in particular was not accessible to university staff as well as students who reside outside campus,” university spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said.

“The executive management committee deliberated on the situation this morning and took a decision to suspend the academic programme on all campuses for today and tomorrow.”

The academic programme would resume on Monday.

A police officer and two students were injured this morning.

“We can confirm that a police officer was injured when he was hit with a stone thrown by protesters at UKZN Westville campus,” police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said.

Zwane said he was unsure of the officer’s condition.

KwaZulu-Natal emergency services spokesperson Robert McKenzie said paramedics treated people with moderate injuries.

“A third patient was transported privately from the scene before paramedics arrived ... and they were not able to confirm this person’s injuries or condition.”

McKenzie said no injuries caused by fires on the campus were reported and most of the fires had been extinguished.

“The police and paramedics are still standing by,” he said.

Seshoka said there had been “serious violent protests” at the Westville, Howard, Edgewood and Pietermaritzburg campuses this morning.

“The university regrets the inconvenience caused and apologises to all students whose commitments have been interrupted by the unfortunate activities of a handful of disruptive elements,” he said.

“The South African Police Service and the university’s risk management services are keeping an eye on the situation. Discussions with students are ongoing.”

On Tuesday, police used a water cannon against protesting students at the Westville campus.

At the time Seshoka said about 200 students embarked on illegal protests on the campus, disrupted lectures and damaged property. A number of cars were stoned and some facilities set alight.

“It is of grave concern that a small group of students is continuing to embark on illegal, destructive and violent protest action,” he said.

“Management condemns the destruction to property and the threats and intimidation of both students and staff.”

Seshoka said the university obtained a high court order protecting the university against “unlawful protests, disruptive gatherings, demonstrations, mass action, intimidation or any violent act to persons or property at the entrance and premises” of the university.

He said offenders would be charged with contempt of court and the university would not withdraw any charges.

In a memorandum, students said financial aid, the draft loans and bursary policy and funding for postgraduate students were reasons to protest.

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