Chaos at campuses

2014-09-05 00:00

RUNNING battles between striking UKZN students and riot police over a rumoured fee increase yesterday forced the suspension of classes until Monday.

Campuses in Durban and Pietermaritzburg descended into chaos as students clashed with police again, the latest in a week of violence.

The protests came even as the university rubbished claims that the annual registration fee will rise by over 100% as claimed by the student representative (SRC) council and the apparent basis of the protest.

At the university’s Westville Campus, police used rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse violent students who had barricaded roads with burning debris.

In Pietermaritzburg, students disrupted lectures, raided the library and stormed the buildings.

Salona Gangaram, an honours student, said: “They blocked off all the entrances so that we could not get in, we are missing tests and practicals. It’s very upsetting.”

Student Divashen Govender described the violent disruption as “disappointing”.

“Everyone has the right to protest but they also have the responsibility to respect those who have chosen not to.

“We are not even sure what they are striking over any more,” said Govender.

“They should at least be letting us into campus and not destroying property. Our tests are being moved, they are giving us less time to finish the curriculum.”

Social science and psychology student Banele Chonco said the strike will have a negative impact.

“I understand that we are exercising our rights, but it will slow down our progress. I could have done a lot of work.”

UKZN spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said they have been in meetings with the SRC since the start of the protests.

“Every time we meet with them, we liaise and they say the protest is over.

“We come back the next day and the students are protesting again. We are certain that this is just a way for the SRC to pull in votes before the elections,” he said.

“We are hoping to liaise with the SRC over the weekend and have lectures continue as usual from Monday.”

But SRC president Lungani Nhlenyama insisted the registration increment was unjustifiable.

“We have engaged with the management and tabled our concerns but there is no solution. Our students cannot afford to pay R9 000. They must increase fees with a reasonable amount.”

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said an officer and a security guard were hit with stones by the protesters at the Westville campus and sustained slight injuries.

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