Student riots over funding and poor accommodation’ close DUT campuses

2011-02-10 00:00

STUDENT protests at the Durban University of Technology’s (DUT) Indumiso campus in Imbali, Pietermaritzburg, turned nasty yesterday morning as students set fire to a car belonging to the institution and threw rocks at the office of the executive director.

This prompted the management of the institution to suspend the academic programme on all campuses until Monday.

Since the beginning of the year the Durban and Indumiso DUT campuses have been hit by a wave of student protests, which began on the Durban campus.

Earlier this month students at the DUT’s Durban campus protested against insufficient funding as first-year and B Tech students will not be subsidised this year.

They also complained about poor accommodation. They said management was trying to force students to live in substandard accommodation located at a busy Durban market.

With issues such as funding being common on other campuses, Indumiso campus joined the strike.

Last week, students at Indumiso burned tyres and blockaded the gate. None of the institution’s staff arrived for work on that morning.

The strike turned nasty yesterday when the students burned a car belonging to the university, set rubbish alight and threw rocks at the office of the executive director breaking its windows.

A source at the institution said the students were uncontrollable.

“While they were out demonstrating by the gate, we just saw some of them pushing the car towards the gate where they set it alight.”

The source said the car belongs to the institution’s civil engineering department and was no longer working properly. He said that at times the students used it for teaching each other to drive.

He said the students also burned rubbish inside the university, near the guard house.

“The police showed up and the students scattered.

“They took their frustrations out on the office of the executive director and threw rocks on the windows.”

When The Witness arrived at the scene, the car was still smouldering and students had gone back to their residents.

Police and the management of the institution stood guard at the gate anticipating more incidents.

A security staff member warned motorists not to park in front of the university’s gate, fearing the students might come back.

“If they come back here, they will not ask whose car this is but they will simply hammer it with rocks.”.

Cedric Ngubane, a member of the SRC, said the student’s anger is being fanned by the management’s failure to address their concerns.

“The students are now becoming ungovernable; they are taking to demonstrating in the absence of the SRC, which is creating problems, but at least we managed to rein them in today.”

DUT spokesperson Bhekani Dlamini said the institution is aware of the vandalism at the Indumiso campus and it is investigating.

“Due to the difficulties we have experienced during the course of this [Wednesday] morning’s vandalism and fears for the safety of staff and students, we have now decided to suspend academic classes with immediate effect.

“The academic programme will resume on Monday.

“This is an academic suspension of lectures to all campuses. Staff are expected to be at their work stations, but are, however, urged to take precautions given the current situation.”

SA Police Force spokesperson Joey Jeevan said the police were on campus all day.

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