Protest rocks Howard College

2011-03-01 00:00

THE University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College was brought to a standstill by students involved in an alleged illegal demonstration yesterday.

Police had to be brought in to restore calm after students went on a rampage damaging property and preventing non-protesting students from entering the campus.

Five students, reportedly members of the student representative council, were arrested for public violence.

UKZN spokesperson, Nomonde Mbadi, said a group of protesting students gathered at the main gate of the campus in an attempt to prevent students from entering the campus.

She said a report from the risk management services state that these students then broke up into small groups, intimidating students and disrupting lectures.

“There has been some damage to university property. The South African Police Force was called in to take control of the situation,” Mbadi said in a statement.

However, she said the students did not issue any statements outlining their grievances.

Leaders of a student wing, the Democratic Alliance Students’ Organisation (Daso), said there was a general sense of fear and panic among students following the illegal and “unjustifiable” outburst of violence at the university yesterday.

“Strikers have been threatening students to either leave the university or suffer the consequences of not complying with their demands,” the chairperson of Daso, Kameel Premhid, said.

Daso believes that while protesting students are entitled to forgo their education, their actions impact those who choose not to participate.

Last week, police were called in after about 200 students embarked on a similar demonstration at UKZN’s Edgewood campus. Some of the students’ concerns were over meal allowances and the administration of the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme. However, the university said these issues have since been resolved with the students.

Premhid believes points of contention in the current strike are financial aid which falls outside the university’s ambit and the responsibility of the ruling party to see to it that unspent money from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme be returned to universities to assist worthy applicants.

Captain Thulani Zwane said the five arrested students were between the ages of 22 to 30.

They are expected to appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court shortly.

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