DUT closes all Durban campuses as 'fake news' on walk-in registrations leads to protest

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  • DUT has closed all five of its Durban campuses following alleged fake news that claimed there was walk-in registration of students.
  • The university said students flooded its sports centre on Tuesday, and some continued to occupy the area by Wednesday.
  • Police were called in, and people were dispersed following the protest on Steve Biko Road.

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has shut all its Durban campuses after alleged fake news, saying the institution was allowing walk-in registrations, led to protest action.

"Following the risk to health, safety, and security, the university suspended the on-campus support for online registration [on Tuesday] indefinitely. However, normal online registration will continue in the manner it has been all along, but without on-campus support," DUT spokesperson Alan Khan said.

"Simply, the influx of uninvited people on campus continues to violate the Covid-19 protocols." 

PICS | DUT students stone police vehicles in protest over registration

He said the closure came after a large number of people flocked to the campus on Tuesday following the spreading of fake news.

"Yesterday [Tuesday] a large number of people invaded the sports centre on the Steve Biko Campus in Durban. This was after they had reacted to fake social media posts inviting walk-ins to register at DUT. The university did not invite walk-ins to register on campus."

ALSO READ | Students in violent clash outside DUT, 5 stabbed

Khan said that many remained at the sports centre overnight.

"A significant number of people continued to occupy the sports centre and refused the request to leave campus. Over the course of this morning [Wednesday], the situation escalated, with protesters milling around outside the Steve Biko campus, hurling stones at buildings, damaging university property, barricading public roads, including several attempts to invade more buildings on campus."

He said law enforcement had to be called in.

"The university has called on all of the relevant law enforcement agencies to assist in calming this potentially dangerous situation. It has become clear that the situation is tough to contain, and it is being exacerbated with increasing numbers of people trying to force their way onto many other parts of the Durban campuses. This also poses a bigger threat for Covid-19 infections.

"As a result, all five Durban campuses of the university will be closed until further notice."

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said a group of 500 students embarked on the protest, demanding to be registered. 

"They managed to gain access by breaking the gate, damaged computers, and set alight the university vehicle [by starting a fire at the vehicle's tyres]. The fire was stopped by security guards," Gwala said.

"Public Order Police had use stun grenades to disperse the violent protesters. A total of 12 students were arrested for public violence, illegal gathering, as well as malicious damage to property, and will appear in court soon."

Khan said that all online university functions and activities would continue.

"This means that online registration for first-time entering students with firm offers will proceed as previously announced."

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