Police, students clash at NMMU

2016-09-21 22:40


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Port Elizabeth – A peaceful student march quickly turned into a confrontation with police at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on Wednesday.

Instead of going through the entrance of the 2nd Avenue campus, opposite the Boardwalk, as they had agreed with public order police, students blocked the road.

Police warned them they were acting unlawfully as they did not have permission to stage a protest. They told students to disperse.

The group, which had swelled substantially since leaving the main campus, refused to move. Instead, they danced at the traffic circle in the middle of the road, banged empty water bottles together, and sang struggle songs.

Public order police in riot gear, and armed with shields and batons, pushed the students back onto the campus.

Students pushed back and a group at the back began hurling water bottles at police. Hundreds of students scattered as police deployed stun grenades. They soon returned and began to congregate in front of the campus entrance.

Several protesters were arrested.

The students had gathered at the university's cafeteria, the Kraal, earlier in the day to raise their concerns with management.

SRC president Nicolas Nyati asked the management team why they were sitting in the shade, when struggling students were sitting in the sun. He asked them to move into the sun before he would address them.

When the officials did not do so, he said it was a further show of their lack of willingness to engage with students and he would not allow them to speak.

Nyati said he was aware that some of the students wanted to go to the Boardwalk to disrupt activities there.

"We do not have permission to march, but we will ask the police to accompany us, and do so in good faith," he said.

Nyati told students that the Boardwalk was a privately-owned business and that students could face criminal charges for causing disruptions there. He was referring to Fort Hare students who faced criminal charges after protests against university fee increases last year.

Another student leader, who did not identify himself, told the crowd that the intention of the strike was to disrupt. 

"This is a strike, not a gathering. It is meant to inconvenience. We must go outside to the community," he said.

Read more on:    nmmu  |  port elizabeth  |  university fees

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