Safety concerns in drug area

2008-02-05 00:00

There are fears for the safety of Durban University of Technology (DUT) students who have been moved to Durban’s notorious Point Road after violent protests erupted on campus.

Students were moved to the Four Seasons Hotel residence after management was forced to close down the Steve Biko campus when students damaged windows and other university property.

During the protest, students threw bricks and bottles at policemen and campus security guards. One policeman was injured when he was struck by a blunt object.

Students were protesting over registration fees, accommodation facilities and inadequate campus security.

Student Representative Council (SRC) spokesman Mthunzi Gumede told The Witness that dozens of first year students were instructed by security guards to pack their belongings and leave.

"Their first day was a nightmare. Many students were traumatised by the protests."

Gumede said he was concerned about the safety of the students because of the high drug and crime rate in the area.

Three weeks ago, a University of KwaZulu-Natal student was killed for his cellphone in the area.

Foreign student Jean-Claude Ndayishimiye (21) of Burundi, was held up by two armed men who demanded his cellphone. After they accosted him, one pulled out a firearm and shot him twice in the chest.

The incident caused panic amongst students living in the area, and many asked to be moved out.

"We are hoping to meet with DUT management to discuss the protests and the way forward," said Gumede.

Mthunzi reiterated that the SRC would not tolerate students intimidating non-protesting students.

He said that a "mafia" operated on the campus and were responsible for the damage to property and intimidating students.

Mark Singh, an operations management first year student, said that a group of students told him to leave campus before protests turned violent."It was really scary. I have never experienced anything like this. I had to run down the street to escape the protestors," he said.

Singh said he was concerned over the loss of lecture time and said that he hoped that the examination dates would be adjusted so that students could catch up on lectures.

Drama student Buhle Zulu said she hid when she saw the protestors approaching the campus.

"I saw bottles and bricks flying. I was so scared that they would hurt me so I hid until they had passed," she said.

DUT’s management is still assessing the cost of damages incurred.

Spokeswoman Nomonde Mbadi said during the closure that management will attempt to find solutions to the current problems.

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