Campus election mayhem

2012-10-01 00:00

THE University of Zululand’s (Unizulu’s) student representative council elections descended into chaos when six students sustained minor injuries and an electoral official was allegedly assaulted.

The violence saw the National Freedom Party-aligned student body, the National Students’ Movement (Nasmo) overturn ballot boxes on Thursday evening after it claimed the Independent Electoral Commission was trying fraudulently to help the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) — made up the ANC Youth League, Young Communist League and South African Students’ Congress – win the election.

Nasmo has a majority on the SRC.

The university said in a statement that six students sustained minor injuries and an electoral official was assaulted.

“Shortly before closure of the ballot stations at the KwaDlangezwa campus, the activities were disrupted by a small number [of students]. Campus security and the SA Police Service had to intervene.

“The [injured] students were taken to a nearby hospital where they were treated and discharged. The behaviour of the students involved is unacceptable,” the statement added.

The university said it would seek advice from the IEC about what action to take in determining the outcome of the election.

Before the election, the university said it did not object to the involvement of politics and religious organisations on campus. Its statement said Unizulu supported the freedom of association and affiliation of political beliefs, but was advising political parties and other organisations to abstain from visiting the campus during the election period.

“Political parties must be mindful of the rules of engagement during elections. The institution is governed by rules and regulations to ensure political tolerance and peaceful coexistence is maintained,” it said.

Nasmo’s Unizulu branch chairperson, Simo Mkhwanazi, said they had opened a case of fraud against the IEC, claiming it had allowed people not registered as students to vote.

“It was discovered that IEC officials gave some students more than one ballot paper to vote. We also discovered that some students were marked on the voters’ roll as already having voted when they arrived to vote.

“We believe this was an attempt by the IEC to influence the outcome of the contested SRC elections at the institution,” Mkhwanazi said.

SAPS spokesperson Captain Mbongeni Mdlalose said police were called to the campus late on Thursday evening to maintain calm. No students were arrested.

A student said the battle started when Nasmo discovered the ANC collective was leading and likely to win the election.

A Unizulu student who asked to remain anonymous said students had locked themselves in their rooms and that others were fleeing campus.

“No one is sleeping. Students are leaving campus in fear.”

A second student said: “They are banging on doors, ejecting other students by force at student residences…”

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