UKZN students torch HIV support centre on Durban campus

University students protest. (Eugene Coetzee, Gallo Images, The Times, file)
University students protest. (Eugene Coetzee, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

Violent protests at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) continued on Monday morning when students set alight the HIV support centre at Howard College campus.

According to Daily News, metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said the building was set alight early on Monday morning. This reportedly happened as lectures were expected to start.

The Mercury reported that students had vowed to burn down the school if they were not allowed to register.

Armed with rocks and sticks, students reportedly challenged campus security. In a bid to disperse the crowd, police reportedly fired rubber bullets. It is alleged that a student was shot and has since been rushed to hospital. 

This is the second building students have torched. The risk management services building (security control centre) on the Westville campus was also set alight, university spokesperson Ashton Bodrick said on Wednesday. 

Student protests over historical debt erupted at two UKZN campuses on Wednesday last week and have led to the suspension of registration for the new year, News24 reported. 

Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker told News24 last week that security officials at the Westville campus had spotted around 600 students approaching the security officers' building at about 01:00.

READ | Tensions rise at UKZN as building set alight while hundreds of students protest

"They were seen carrying petrol bombs and stones. The security guards fled the scene and returned a short while later to find the security officers' building set on fire."

Police deployed public order policing units, as well as the fire department, to the scene.

"The suspects fled the scene prior to the police's arrival. A case of arson and public violence is being investigated."

According to IOL, police arrested several students from both universities.

Bodrick previously denounced the protests as criminal behaviour. He said security staff and police had worked tirelessly to safeguard the university community, and called the violence a "grave act of arson".

Bodrick said that, while they respected students' right to protest, there was no excuse for any act of violence and damage to university resources and property.

He said all incidents of assault, the destruction of property and incidents of arson were being investigated by the university's risk management services and police.

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