Seven more students arrested in PMB campus unrest

2016-10-05 06:00

THE number of University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, students in jail has grown to 18 after seven were arrested at the weekend following more burning and stoning on the city campus.

Police confirmed that the seven were arrested during the latest wave of unrest on Friday night and Saturday morning. FThe violence broke out in the wake of last Friday’s court appearance by the original 11 arrested students, who are facing charges of public violence, failing to obey police orders, assault and malicious injury to property.

The 11 students, whose bail application is being opposed by the state, were remanded until October 10 pending the magistrate’s decision.

Magistrate M. Boikhutso first wants to view video footage that allegedly shows the 11 committing “acts of violence” during earlier protest action.

“Four students were arrested [on Saturday] for contravening court orders by inciting violence when throwing stones at security guards,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane.

This followed the arrest on Friday night of three students at campus after a computer room was set on fire.

In a statement issued on Saturday, UKZN acknowledged that the Pietermaritzburg campus had “experienced sporadic protest action” late on Friday night and on Saturday.

According to the statement, little damage was caused to a building that was set alight at around 11pm on Friday, because the university’s Risk Management Services (RMS) were quick to extinguish the flames.

However, a student computer room was set alight at around 3am on Saturday.

“University RMS were able to extinguish the fire in good time. However, five computers were burnt,” the UKZN statement read. The university’s security and the police are investigating the arson.

On Saturday, city motorists dodged broken bricks and burnt debris left on King Edward and other roads around the Pietermaritzburg campus in the aftermath of student protests. A strong police and private security presence could be seen surrounding the university throughout the weekend.

Three UKZN security guards sustained injuries in clashes with protesting students and were admitted to hospital.

“While we respect the rights of students to protest, we expect that the protest action will be peaceful and not hinder the academic programme and students’ rights to a conducive learning environment,” a UKZN statement says, adding that the university has a high court interdict in place, protecting it from any unlawful protests or mass gatherings.

The academic programme is expected to proceed on all its campuses this week, despite the protests.

The seven students arrested at the weekend are expected to appear in court today.

The 11 originally arrested and awaiting their bail application decision are Chuma Wakeni, Siyathemba Magwaza, Minenhle Sibisi, Ntabankeka Kopedi, Mayibongwe Ngcobo, Mbali Langa, Lindokuhle Hlongwa, Thembeka Mpanza, Nobuhle Shabalala, Siyabonga Mbambo and Samukelisiwe Noluthando.

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