Police caused violence — SRC

2010-03-23 00:00

WHILE management at the Durban University of Technology believes it has been patient, sympathetic and understanding since the beginning of the year in addressing students’ complaints and removing all obstacles that may inhibit a successful academic year, the strike by students appears to be far from over.

Students on the Midlands campus said they will not go back to classes until the executive director is removed.

The students have called for the dismissal of Reggie Ngcobo and the food service provider, Capitol. They claim that rotten food is served and that the prices are exorbitant.

Speaking to The Witness last week, student representative council (SRC) president Sipho Mdliva said they have gone too far to give in now.

The students at the two midlands sites, the Indumiso and Riverside campuses, have been striking since March 12. Things came to a head last Tuesday, and both campuses were shut down after demonstrations at Indumiso turned violent.

According to police statements, the students were unruly and damaged a car parked on the DUT premises. The police said they were pelted with stones and bottles.

But Mdliva said the violence was a result of police barging into residences and firing rubber bullets at students who were not even part of the demonstration.

“They fired rubber bullets through windows and the shattered glass went into people’s eyes. As we speak, four students are in hospital trying to recover.”

Mdliva said students are frequently sick as a result of being sold food of inferior quality. He said a university nursing sister has figures to support this claim.

“A plate of food here costs R22,95. We are talking about small servings with one salad. If you don’t finish the food in one hour, it goes off. It is the same with the juice. If it sleeps the night, you find slimy things floating around.”

Mdliva said a big packet of Simba chips, which sells for about R8 in stores, is priced at R13,50 in the campus cafeterias. A 750 ml Appletiser is R15 and a slab of chocolate R12.

He said that if these high prices are allowed to continue, students will quickly exhaust their funds.

“You have to consider that 90% of our students are on financial aid. These are people in need. What we are trying to avoid is having girls turning to prostitution and students turning to crime to source food because they have run out of money.”

Mdliva said students are not protesting because they do not want to study.

Students at the Durban campuses, who have joined the protest, handed university management a memorandum of grievances last week.

Student complaints relate to issues of security, accommodation, a shortage of buses to take students to and from campus, the need for 24-hour access to computer laboratories and the provision of DStv.

Lectures that were supposed to resume on Friday were postponed until today.

In her last statement, acting vice-chancellor Professor Nqabomzi Gawe said the university has dealt with the SRC in a sympathetic manner in a number of meetings, but that there seems to be little intention on the part of the SRC to bring matters to a close.

Mdliva said the SRC has asked the Higher Education minister to intervene.

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