Students hurt in campus riot

2008-03-06 00:00

A Mangosuthu University of Technology student may never walk again after he was shot with rubber bullets in riots at the campus yesterday, during which 125 students were arrested.

The unidentified student and several others were pelted with rubber bullets during protests over a shortage of lecturers, lack of transport and the dismissal of several Student Representative Council members.

The university gave the students an ultimatum on Wednesday — to return to lectures yesterday or the university would be closed for all students — but protests continued.

Riot police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd of angry students who had gathered at the entrance of the campus. The students refused to move away and threw bottles and other debris. Armed with sticks and knobkerries, they swore at police, who arrested several of them and took them away in police vans.

Netcare spokesman Chris Botha said paramedics were called in after the riot police opened fire.

"When we got to the scene, we treated several students who had been shot. On student was shot in the neck and sustained severe spinal injuries," he said.

Another student’s nose was shattered after a rubber bullet struck his face. The student also sustained a fracture to his arm.

"One of the students was shot twice in the head. He sustained severe lacerations and was taken to hospital," said Botha.

The students were taken to Prince Mshiyeni Hospital where they are in a stable condition.

Umlazi police spokesman Khephu Ndlovu said that 125 students were arrested and charged with public violence and malicious damage to property.

"Students were uncontrollable. They threw rocks at a police vehicle and damaged the windows," he said.

The students will appear in the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court this morning.

Members of the media were manhandled by police and were escorted off the campus by the riot police.

One journalist told The Witness that they were pushed off the campus by police and told to stay about 500 metres away.

"They were rude and pushed us. They made us stand far away from the campus. How can we take pictures from that distance," she said.

Ndlovu denied that journalists were pushed by police; he said that they were asked to leave the area after students started throwing rocks at police.

"Nobody asked them to leave. We asked them not to stand close to the angry students as we feared for their safety," he said.

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