Protests to continue

2014-02-28 00:00

STUDENT representatives from all of Durban’s major tertiary institutions and FET colleges have vowed to continue with their protests next week — further delaying the start of the academic calendar.

In recent weeks student protests over the financial aid scheme and re-registration have led to clashes with police and security guards.

Yesterday, hundreds of students from Durban University of Technology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Mangosuthu University of Technology, University of South Africa, University of Zululand and some FET colleges staged a protest march that started at Currie’s Fountain.

The march was halted abruptly when students confronted police in the Warwick Junction area.

At least 30 students were arrested.

Police officers on foot and in vans and trucks tried to stop hundreds of defiant students marching to the Department of Education in Margaret Mncadi Avenue to hand over a memorandum to the Department of Education leadership.

At Currie’s Fountain sport ground students were addressed by South African Students Congress (Sasco) provincial chairperson Dumo Ntyinkala before embarking on the march.

Ntyinkala told students they were not only fighting for themselves but for students throughout the country.

“Our struggle affects previously disadvantaged students from poor backgrounds, who cannot afford education. Students are affected because they have no funds for education.”

He said students did not protest because it was “nice” but understood that they were fighting for change. They called non-protesting students “dogs”. Some of their songs contained racial slurs. When they took to the streets, the students had to dodge the police and cars on the road as they chanted.

They were undeterred as police turned water cannons and rubber bullets.

On Wednesday, DUT Student Representative Council members were suspended. However, the situation was calm at UKZN campuses yesterday.

The memorandum had a list of grievances including the exclusion of students from institutions of higher learning due to lack of funding. “Education is a right and not a privilege, it should be accessible to all as well as the poor and and the working class.”

They have given the department until Monday to respond.

DUT’s spokesperson Alan Khan said now that the SRC has broken its agreement with the university, DUT has to take special measures to protect its community and property. “It’s also important to note that the university received no prior notification from the SRC with regard to this week’s protests.” The university also condemned hate speech and racist comments that were posted on the SRC’s Facebook page.

The situation in Pietermaritzburg was normal and there have been no disruptions this week.

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