Mass arrests, UKZN closed

2011-04-01 00:00

ALL University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) campuses will be closed for staff and students today, while the Westville campus Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Bongumenzi Mhlango, was arrested yesterday.

An SMS sent to staff members by the registrar, Professor Jane Meyerowitz, last night, said the university will re-open on Monday.

The Witness spoke to Mhlango by phone while he was being arrested.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said 103 students were arrested on Westville campus yesterday, with 47 arrests made on Wednesday.

University spokesperson Nomonde Mbadi said: “Students have been escorted by police to their vehicles from outside the main admin block.

“One student has been attended to for injuries sustained due to tear gas.”

She denied any rumours of student deaths, and said the damage to the university property was being assessed.

Protests on Westville campus have disrupted classes and the university forced to cancel most lectures, she added.

The high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday confirmed an interim interdict granted last month to prevent students from intimidating, harassing and assaulting fellow students and staff at any UKZN campus.

It also prohibits students from organising and participating in any gathering, demonstration or mass action.

The interdict was obtained by the UKZN in the wake of rioting that broke out at the Howard College campus on February 28, during which students and staff were allegedly attacked, entrances and exits barricaded, and property damaged. Tyres were also burned during a demonstration.

The provincial commissioner of police has been directed to help ensure the interdict is implemented.

The SRC-organised protests stem from unhappiness over the lack of financial aid for students.

Mhlango said an estimated 700 students have been unable to register due a lack of finance and may be asked to leave the university as a result.

However, the university says that despite the amount put aside to supplement the financial aid given by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), the funding is still not enough to meet the growing demand.

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