Student approaches police over DUT shooting as strike rages on

2018-02-26 21:13
DUT student Yamkela Zamisa was allegedly assaulted by a security guard during a students protest at DUT. (Supplied)

DUT student Yamkela Zamisa was allegedly assaulted by a security guard during a students protest at DUT. (Supplied)

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Durban – A student leader at the troubled Durban University of Technology (DUT) was still recovering in hospital on Monday as a strike by the institution's staff entered its seventh week.

Yamkela Zamisa, 19 - a second-year business and information management student - was allegedly assaulted by a security guard on Thursday when around 300 students marched to the university's vice-chancellor's office at the Steve Biko campus.

"The security chased after me and shot me on the butt. I fell down and I struggled to breathe because of the teargas that was also fired. While my friend Wendy went to get me water, the same guard arrived. He then hit me with a butt of his firearm three times on the chest and accused me of being a ring leader. He then tried to drag me away, but a group of women arrived and asked him if he didn't see that I was sick. He then left me," she said.

READ: Security guards fire rubber bullets at protesting DUT students

Zamisa, who is the South African Students Congress (Sasco) publicity officer at DUT, told News24 that she was still struggling to walk properly since the assault. The shooting at the institution affected her "psychologically", she added.

"I can't walk on my own. I need a nurse's support, even if I go to the loo. I don't even know how I'll bath myself tomorrow (Tuesday)," she said. Zamisa said she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

She reported the matter to police on Sunday at the Berea police station.

"A case of assault with grievous bodily harm was opened at Berea police station, after a female was assaulted at Steve Biko campus. No arrest has been made," said provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane.

Zamisa said they had decided to embark on their own strike because of the staff strike.

Firing rubber bullets

On Thursday, Zwane confirmed that security guards fired rubber bullets to disperse protesting students.

The students were demanding that the university's management resolve an ongoing salary dispute with staff, which had led to a strike, so that they can start their classes.

Teaching and learning came to a halt at DUT since the staff, including lecturers, downed tools six weeks ago.

The strike, by members of the National Tertiary Education, National Health Education and Allied Workers' unions, as well as the Tertiary Education National Union of South Africa, has led to the suspension of classes at the university.

Federation of unions of South Africa (Fedusa) general secretary Dennis George told News24 that the workers were still refusing the 6.5% pay increase offered by university management.

Outlining the way forward

He said the meeting on Tuesday with Department of Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Buti Manamela would outline the way forward.

The students also said they would wait for Tuesday's meeting.

South African Students Congress (Sasco) deputy secretary at DUT Sinoxolo Mahlatshana said student organisations would also meet on Tuesday to wait for the outcome of the meeting.

She said there were no demonstrations on Monday, following Thursday's protests by students.

"At the moment it seems like there's a complete shutdown. Workers are not allowed in and students are using the small gates to enter. All the bigger main gates are closed," she said.

Impasse continues

Alan Khan, senior director of corporate affairs at DUT, said negotiations between the staff's labour unions and DUT management remained deadlocked.

"The three unions rejected the university's 6.5% increase on basic salary, as well as a 6.5% increase for the monthly housing allowance. The university has not accepted the three labour unions' demand for a once-off bonus (14th cheque)," he said.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Training and the university on Monday issued a joint press statement confirming that Manamela would meet with all the parties involved in the ongoing labour dispute at the university.

"This is at the request of all the parties in the dispute," the statement indicated.

Read more on:    dut  |  durban

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