UKZN: Student critically injured as rocks and rubber bullets fly in campus protest

2013-03-14 00:00

A STUDENT at UKZN is in critical condition in hospital after a protest over sub-standard accommodation tuned violent at Howard College in Durban yesterday.

Philani Mabaso was injured during the protest, which saw more than a hundred students throwing rocks and security personnel allegedly shooting rubber bullets.

A student who wished not to be named said Mabaso was found lying on the ground, covered in blood. An official at the hospital confirmed that Mabaso was admitted, and that doctors were tending to him and that he was in no state to talk to the media.

The students say they were protesting against sub-standard accommodation in dangerous parts of town. They were first placed in a building called Renaissance in downtown Durban, near Albert Park, which is known as a hangout for drug addicts and prostitutes.

When The Witness visited the building while the students lived there a month ago, it was found that some doors could not lock, some were broken and the rooms were overcrowded, with about four to six students each.

In one case, 11 students lived in a room where they shared one shower and one toilet.

In other rooms, windows were broken and there was no electricity or water.

Some students had to use emergency pipes to bath, and food often got spoilt as a result of the lack of electricity.

After inquiries by The Witness three weeks ago, the students were moved to Coastlands Hotel, where they continued to endure overcrowding, and were allegedly not allowed to have meals in the building.

The students allege the problem started when they were moved to the Royal Hotel in Durban on Friday.

They were allegedly refused entry and had to spend the weekend on the streets, even though they are paying close to R18 000 a year for accommodation. Nomonde Mbadi, the executive director of corporate relations at UKZN, said a court interdict preventing further disruptions and illegal gatherings on the university’s five campuses was secured yesterday.

“We are deeply concerned that one student was injured during the protest today. The student has received medical assistance.

“We wish to reiterate that the student accommodation matter that arose over the weekend is under investigation.

“The university has given high priority to secure suitable permanent accommodation for our students,” she said.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said the police had been alerted to the situation which they managed to defuse.

Zwane said that once the students had dispersed, the Umbilo and public order police were monitoring the situation.

“University management and students are negotiating the way forward.” he said.

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