Protests close DUT campuses

2010-08-18 18:48

Durban - All Durban University of Technology (DUT) campuses in Durban have been closed after violent student protests, the university said on Wednesday.

"The executive management at DUT has now decided to close all Durban campuses with immediate effect and re-open on Monday August 23," DUT vice chancellor Nqabomzi Gawe said.

Gawe said part of the reason the campus had been closed was because of difficulties experienced on Wednesday related to acts of violence and vandalism, and fears for the safety of staff and students.

"This suspension applies only to all academic activities. Staff are still required to be at their work stations," said Gawe.

A meeting between the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) and civil society leaders who were scheduled to discuss media censorship on Wednesday was postponed because of the protest.

Police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesting students, who were allegedly told by university management they would not be able to register as their fees had not been paid.

The protest started at around 09:00 at the ML Sultan Campus.

The students quickly moved to Steve Biko Campus, where they allegedly broke gates and office windows and demanded that other students join the protest.

Rubber bullets

According to students at Steve Biko Campus, rubber bullets were fired to disperse protesting students.

By 11:30 scores of members of the South African and Metro police were monitoring the situation.

Gawe said the root of the fees problem lay in insufficient funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to the University.

"Despite all attempts by both the students representative council (SRC) and the university to date to request for additional financial aid we have not had a positive outcome," he said.

"We still await a final response from NSFAS to a recent request.

Gawe said the SRC had demanded that DUT grant loans from its own budget for the students that could not pay fees.

"Rough indications are that such financial cost would be in the region of R35m.

"Unfortunately the university does not have such funds available to cover these financially needy students," said Gawe.