Student beaten ‘for inciting riot’

2011-04-09 00:00

DRAGGED from his room yesterday evening by two plainclothes policemen and then beaten, a University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) student has cried foul.

The third-year optometry student, who asked to remain unnamed for fear of victimisation, claims two men came to his residence room saying they wanted to talk to him. He didn’t realise they were police officers until they had dragged him downstairs and put him into a police van. They drove him to the university’s sport centre, where, shouting and swearing at him, they accused him of inciting students to riot. The two men then began beating him, with one holding him down while the other kicked him in the ribs.

After they had left, the abused student called a friend to come fetch him.

“He was unable to walk. He was limping,” said the friend, a fellow member of the SA Student Congress (Sasco) and on the Student Representative Council (SRC).

SRC president Bongumenzi Mhlan­go says he has heard numerous accounts of students who have been harassed by officers during the strike. The student who claims he was assaulted says he knows two fellow students who experienced similar trauma.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Vincent Mdunge was not available for comment.

The week-long strikes, which ended on Monday, were due to unhappiness over financial aid for disadvantaged students. An interdict granted to UKZN prohibited any form of mass action, and combined with the violent protests, saw 150 students arrested.

Mhlango also says the SRC has made the university aware of the police harassment and has lodged a complaint with the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD). However, ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini said they have no record of a formal complaint being lodged.

UKZN spokesperson Nomonde Mbadi said during a meeting held last weekend between university management and the SRC, it was agreed that all negotiating parties would prepare reports regarding harassment, which would be directed at the office of the ombud.

 

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