Student mob erupts

2016-02-19 10:00
DUT students stand outside the guard house, trashed in the fight between security and students. In the foreground, on the desk lies the brick used to break the window.

DUT students stand outside the guard house, trashed in the fight between security and students. In the foreground, on the desk lies the brick used to break the window. (Chelsea Pieterse, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Durban University of Technology (DUT) risk management staff and private security guards fled for their lives as angry students chased after them, pelting them with bricks at the Indumiso Campus on Thursday.

The campus erupted in chaos yesterday morning as students faced off with campus security, leaving seven security guards and four students injured.

Rubber bullets, burning tyres, smashed windows and flying bricks were the order of the day as students protested the way in which the university had been handling their grievances.

“It was war,” said Student Representative Council (SRC) secretary Sandile Nene yesterday.

Nene hobbled over to the trashed guard house with a bandage on his knee after a brick that was thrown at him injured his knee cap.

He said he had been caught between the line of students and security when the fighting erupted.

“We are here to lead the students. We tried to negotiate with them and calm them down, but they were provoked by rubber bullets and they retaliated by throwing stones,” he said.

“One of those stones caught me in the knee. The paramedics said my knee cap had shifted because I was hit by the corner of the brick,” he said.

Acting SRC president Yoliswa Manele said when campus security ran out of rubber bullets they started throwing stones at the students.

“That is when the students overpowered them and the security guards ran for their lives,” she said.

“We had to calm the students down as some security guards were already injured.”

An official from MI7 security company who asked not to be named rubbished the claims made by the students that the security staff had thrown rocks at the students.

“Seven security guards were injured. Three are in hospital. DUT and MI7 Security cars were damaged.”

The official said the students would face criminal charges for the damage to property and the injuries of the security guards. “The guards were forced to defend themselves from 500 students and it was disturbing.”

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the protest had started just before 6 am yesterday.

He said two Plessislaer police vans were called out at 6.15 am followed by the Public Order Police who dispersed the crowd.

“No arrests have yet been made,” said Ngobese.


SRC acting president Yoliswa Manele said the protest was a result of students feeling offended a communiqué from the institution.

According to Manele, management had said they did not think further negotiations on student grievances would lead to any progress.

SRC secretary Sandile Nene, blamed the Vice Chancellor, Professor Ahmed Bawa for the “mess”.

“There is a high level of arrogance from him because he knows he is leaving in three months time. He is leaving this mess he created for someone else to clean up.”

Nene said Midlands students had kept quiet for far too long.

“In the past we have been tolerant. We are sick and tired of being treated as a step-child.”

Nene said most of the issues the students were complaining about were at least three years old.

“The only new issues relate to presidential funding and the NASFAS appeals process.

“But other issues like lack of sufficient students accommodation, meal allowances and others have been there before, and previous SRCs have raised them with management,” he said.

DUT spokesperson Alan Khan said the situation in Midlands campuses had became “very aggressive” and said the protesters damaged property.

The academic programme is continuing at all five Durban campuses whereas Midlands lectures did not take place at all.

Khan said management had responded to the SRC and addressed all of their issues.

“We did make sufficient progress in explaining DUT’s position to the SRC.

“We have bolstered our security presence in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  student  |  protest  |  dut  |  university protests

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