Police vehicles stoned in latest protest action by UKZN students

2014-02-21 00:00

HUNDREDS of University of KwaZulu-Natal students unhappy about the financial aid scheme stoned police vehicles and disrupted lectures yesterday.

Students embarked on protest action on the Howard College and Medical School campuses.

Around 600 students disrupted lectures at Howard College and other university operations.

The university has been affected by protests since the university re-opened for the new academic year.

As many as 26 people were arrested for public violence, according to police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane.

University spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said according to reports from the University Risk Management Services (RMS), police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse protesting students.

“Reports from RMS indicate that two police vehicles were stoned and two staff cars were damaged during the protests on the Howard College campus. There has been damage to some university property as well,” he said.

Later, around 150 students marched to Umbilo Road police station to express their dissatisfaction at the arrest of students.

At the Medical School about 100 students engaged in protest action and although lectures were disrupted, the protest in the car park was peaceful.

“The students returned to lectures and the situation on the campus is normal,” said Seshoka.

Seshoka said that students have been reminded that the final high court interdict prohibiting mass action and unlawful protests remains in place.

The executive director of students, Sibusiso Chalufu, said that they have been engaging with the students since last November. “University management has been meeting with student representatives to deal with a variety of issues, primarily around student funding, student housing and student fees.”

Chalufu said these meetings were attended by representatives from the Central SRC and SRC members from all campuses.

“The vice-chancellor and principal, Professor Makgoba, came to address some of the sittings and, inter alia, offered assistance from his discretionary funds. A number of key resolutions were reached, some of which has already been implemented.

“An inordinate amount of time and energy was spent engaging with student leaders as testimony to our commitment to work towards finding solutions to problems that confront us,” said Chalufu.

“We are always available to engage with elected student representatives and would like to make an appeal to all students to follow established protocols in dealing with grievances, complaints and matters of concern.”

The university said the management has taken measures to ensure that disruptions are dealt with swiftly and that the safety of staff and students is not compromised.

Police and risk management services are continuing to monitor the university’s campuses.

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