Protests bring UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus to a standstill

2015-02-12 00:00

ROWDY students at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus have forced the ­cessation of lectures as a protest over fee increases enters the third day.

A 12% fee increase is understood to have pushed the Student Representative Council to muster the protests at the Pietermaritzburg and Edgewood ­campuses. Lectures have been cancelled indefinitely as mobs of students have grown increasingly violent over the past two days.

Feelings of disappointment and ­dismay have crept in for many first year students who expected to have their first lectures this week.

Ten buses full of protesting students descended on the Edgewood campus yesterday.

A large police contingent fired rubber bullets at the rioting students who ­pelted them with rocks and stones.

Students were urged to continue the strike in a message that allegedly came from members of the SRC.

The source of the message could not be verified.

An excerpt of the message reads: “We want all students to come … if you don’t want to get hurt then stay away from campus if you [are] not striking. Just try your luck and attend lectures [today] … You [are] in for a big surprise and we don’t care about RMS.”

One first year student, who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation, said she never thought university would be like this. “You watch movies and you ­expect so much but when you get here you are not even allowed onto campus,” she said.

Repeated attempts to contact SRC president Richard Mhlongo were ­unsuccessful.

In a press release, UKZN spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka condemned the ­violence at both campuses.

“University management acknowledges and respects the right to protest which should be exercised responsibly under the applicable rules and regulations,” he said.

“Equally, the rights of others should be respected. Management condemns the destruction of property and the threats and intimidation directed at both students and staff.”

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

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