Students protest at UKZN

2010-08-31 00:00

SIXTEEN students were arrested yesterday as hundreds of African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) and South African Students Congress (SASCO) members held a demonstration on the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

The demonstration was organised to protest against an alleged university initiative that will see all UKZN residences become privatised, including those on the Durban and Westville campuses.

The demonstration began on the university’s main campus before moving over to the Commerce and New Arts blocks on Golf Road.

The group of protesters stood outside the lecture buildings singing songs and shouting together.

Students, some of whom had come to campus to write tests, were advised to go home and lectures were cancelled for the day.

Accommodation at the UKZN residences, for many students, is currently paid for by the university’s Financial Aid department.

Financial aid also pays for half of a student’s private accommodation if that particular student qualifies for the aid.

There is concern amongst such students that if the residences become privatised they will only have half of their accommodation at the university paid for.

SASCO chairperson in Pietermaritzburg Sakhile Hadebe said his organisation’s partnership with the ANCYL would ensure that the students would get what they wanted.

“Once the residences become privatised they will no longer be providing a public service and they will become a business. We will not let that happen,” he insisted.

“We will do whatever it takes. We do not care about the means, we only want an end. When university management is listening, we will stop.”

Hadebe added that he had proof that university management was planning to go ahead with its plans to privatise residences, but said that proof needed to remain confidential until the matter was resolved.

“No form of fancy English or accent will convince us otherwise,” said a press release from the ANCYL and SASCO on the matter.

Charles Poole, executive director for Physical Planning and Operations at UKZN said that the protest was illegal and that any ideas that students may have of residences becoming privatised are completely incorrect.

“There are plans to develop on-campus residences for the benefit of the students,” he said.

“This would have to be go through Council first and would not necessarily mean that the residences become privatised.”

Members of the protest group allegedly used physical force to remove students from their lectures.

SAPF Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said that five females and 11 males were arrested for public violence.

“This was an illegal demonstration, it was not approved by anybody,” she said.

“At around 12 pm they were asked to stop their protesting and they refused at which point action was taken. Those arrested will appear in the magistrate’s court shortly.”

No damages to property or injuries were reported and no shots were fired.

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