Student Demos

2008-03-21 00:00

Students demonstrating at the Pietermaritzburg centre of the University of KwaZulu-Natal over a shortage of accommodation may have a cause.

For years the local campus has been underfunded in comparison with its Durban equivalents; and the merger has produced increasing administrative inefficiency.

Everyone has a right to demonstrate peacefully within the law. But nothing can excuse the abuse, threatened violence and intimidation handed out this week to non-protesting students.

Mob behaviour in a test venue and lecture rooms is a clear infringement of constitutional rights and evidence of growing anarchy. And student housing shortages were probably not the only reason for disruption.

Who is protecting students who wish to go about their lawful business of obtaining a degree?

Rioters infringed several laws including the Gatherings Act, but police were reluctant to act decisively on the campus itself. Academic freedom is clearly now under siege from a number of directions.

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