UKZN campus burns

2012-02-15 00:00

UKZN Westville campus strikers became violent yesterday morning and prevented other students from entering for lectures.

“I drove in this morning to see a blockade,” said one student from the campus. “We had to turn back because they were throwing stones at the cars and people. It was scary, they were singing and chanting and had a crazed look in their eyes.”

Entrances were blocked with burning tyres and bins.

“My friend took a detour behind the sports hall to try and get through since there was so much smoke coming through the main road,” said another student.

A boy was attacked by five strikers for not wanting to participate in the strike.

The strike has been ongoing since last Thursday, causing disruptions to lectures and students.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said four suspects were arrested for public violence and will appear in court tomorrow.

Said the student: “It’s just so annoying. This vandalism, intimidation and destructive behaviour just isn’t the way to do this.

“They smashed a couple of the glass panels in the brand-new cafeteria that’s just been built. I saw them smash one on Friday and all run out laughing … it’s so frustrating.

“When they were evicting students and lecturers from their lectures, the strikers were pepper-spraying people — even when the students were complying.

“… It comes closer to resembling a bunch of children throwing temper tantrums than intellectuals looking for solutions … it has just got worse every year, and will continue to get worse. I mean, they could almost schedule this into the yearly calendar by now.”

UKZN spokesperson Nomonde Mbadi said university management had not received a list of concerns from the Westville student representative council (SRC).

Mbadi said university rules and regulations would apply to the students who were responsible for damage to property and added that “the university has just obtained a court interdict that prevents protesting students from disrupting the academic programme and from any form of assault and intimidation”.

The cost of the damage to property in residences would be ascertained later, Mabi said.

One student said she believed the strike was due to the fact that students would get their payouts only on February 29 when registration closes on Friday.

Another student overheard a striker saying they had been invited to a meeting, but they didn’t want to go because management hadn’t had time for them before, so now “their diaries are too full for the management”.

An SMS was sent yesterday to all students asking those who were not involved with the protest to leave immediately.

UKZN SRC president Thembani Ntobeko Khumalo said the SRC stood against violence and that protesters should not infringe students’ rights. “We cannot accept vandalism and damage to property.”

He said the strike was about financial aid and that agreements were being made.

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