Molotov bombs found at UKZN

2016-10-07 12:00
Some of the Molotov cocktails and petrol found at at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg’s Malherbe residence on Thursday.

Some of the Molotov cocktails and petrol found at at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg’s Malherbe residence on Thursday. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - Alert security guards at the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal have been hailed for preventing the almost certain destruction of property by finding and removing 12 Molotov cocktails and two five-litre containers of petrol from a student residence.

The discovery came after an upsurge of violence at the Pietermaritzburg campus on Wednesday night, when a small group of rioting students started fires on Ridge Road and discharged firecrackers in lecture venues.

The university’s Risk Management Services (RMS) and private security operatives hired by the institution on Thursday morning found the petrol bombs and containers of petrol at the Malherbe residences on Alan Paton Avenue.

This was the same residence from where students clashed with police in a violent exchange of rubber bullets, tear gas, stun grenades and large rocks two weeks ago.

Some beer bottles were found with petrol already inside them, and others were stuffed with rags and newspaper, which are commonly used to ignite the petrol.

Alongside, two five-litre bottles of petrol were spotted.

R60m damage

UKZN spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka congratulated the university’s security on the discovery, saying they had prevented further damage to UKZN property being caused.

Estimates of the damage to UKZN property and infrastructure already stand at over R60 million.

Seshoka said the discovery reinforces the university’s contention that the students who want the security off the campus, want them gone to see the university turn into a warzone. He said the university would by no means reduce its security arrangements.

At about 18.30 on Wednesday, a group of about 40 students disrupted a test at the Student Union exam centre on the main campus.

The group apparently hurled stones at windows and doors before the Public Order Policing unit was called in.

A few minutes later, the group — now armed with slingshots, marbles and firecrackers — rampaged through the William O’Brien residence, setting off loud crackers and slinging marbles at guards from behind walls. Fireworks appear to be a new tactic being used in the protest at UKZN.

A source at the university said a test due to take place at the Petrie dining hall was cancelled by a lecturer after the violence erupted.

About an hour later, the protests spilled onto the roads.


Residents in the area called The Witness to report loud chanting and what they thought were stun grenades going off. The loud bangs were, in fact, firecrackers being let off in enclosed areas and lecture venues around the campus.

The protesters started a fire on Ridge Road before attempting to set a nearby electricity substation alight.

Private security guards were quick to extinguish the flames and police dispersed the crowd.

Even though tensions were heightened thereafter, calm returned to the university for about two hours.

Then, minutes before midnight, a group of students set fire to a university bakkie near the Life Sciences campus on Carbis Road. RMS and private security personnel extinguished the flames before returning to regular patrols.

The petrol bombs were discovered six hours later.

Earlier on Wednesday, a group of students also disrupted lectures at various venues on the Howard College campus in Durban. One student was arrested by police for the disruptions.

Seshoka said the protesters also tried to block the South Gate entrance at Howard College, where the police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd throwing stones at them.

“Students are reminded that the university has a high court interdict in place, protecting it against unlawful protests, disruptive gatherings, demonstrations, mass action, intimidation or any violent act to persons or property at the entrance and premises of the university’s campuses,” he said.

The Witness reported on Thursday that the university cannot afford further disruptions to the academic programme — the repercussions of which could lead to teaching and exams for the current semester being carried forward into 2017.

Uncertainty for final-year group

A student told The Witness the effect of stretching the academic programme into 2017 would be disastrous.

The final-year student, who would not be named for fear of victimisation, said most students finishing in their faculty were expected to begin their articles at various firms in January next year.

“I am signed with a firm out of KZN, like quite a few of my friends, and we were supposed to spend the period after exams finding accommodation and adjusting to living in a new province. Now I think most of us are scared and do not even know if our places in these firms are safe,” the student said.

“It was so hard getting signed, and for those signed at big firms we know we are easily replaceable. There are hundreds who would be more than willing to take our places.” — WR.

Read more on:    ukzn  |  pietermaritzburg  |  university protests

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