VUT's 'thuggish' guards condemned
Johannesburg - Security guards who used pepper spray and batons to control crowds outside the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) acted like thugs, an education union said on Tuesday.
"We are calling on the university to review the contract of that security company and make sure that all those thuggish securities [sic] are nowhere near students," the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) said in a statement.
Earlier, VUT spokesperson Kediemetse Mokotsi said the institution did not condone the guards' behaviour.
"These are new security guards that came late last year and were not aware of how to deal with such a crowd. The matter will be taken up with the relevant departments."
On Monday, students waiting to register at the university started pushing each other. Security guards used batons, pepper spray, and tasers on them, according to the SABC.
The guards were described as being "aggressive". Mokotsi could not go into detail about what happened.
Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said private security companies were prone to "reckless conduct... typical of what we observed and experienced during the apartheid era".
Disciplined security guards were tainted by association with those who used excessive force on the students, he said.
Mokotsi said the university planned to register 2 000 students per day, but many came on the wrong day to register.
"[Monday] was the first day for registrations for returning students and each faculty was allocated a specific date for it, but students ignored the dates on their letters," Mokotsi said.
On January 10 a woman was killed in a stampede outside the University of Johannesburg where late registrations were taking place.
Pamla said the union supported Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's call for a central registration office, even though this would not solve academic and financial exclusion.