UKZN suspends lectures as violent protests dominate Durban campuses

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(Supplied)
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The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) was shut down on Monday after violent protests erupted at two of its Durban campuses.

University spokesperson Normah Zondo said the academic programme was suspended with immediate effect until further notice.

"University management has received a memorandum of grievances from the UKZN Student Representative Council (SRC). The suspension will allow management space to engage with student leadership and address matters whilst ensuring the safety and security of all concerned."

The protest is in response to a provincial call to shut down universities following students' demand for free, quality education.

Central SRC secretary general at UKZN, Siyabonga Khumalo, said financial exclusion was a running theme for the protests.

"Students must pay 50% of money [they owe in order] to register. We are saying this is not possible. It's hard for people to come up with that much money at this time of year."

He said there were also international students that had to pay 100% of their registration fees up front.

"Those that are coming from [the rest of] Africa must pay 100% up front to register. Why does this not happen to white foreign students [outside of Africa]? We want the same treatment for our brothers from Europe. They are treated more special than Africans."

Khumalo said students tried to meet university management on several occasions.

"We want them to be proactive. The truth is we have been trying to meet with them and engage them. The only language they listen to is mass demonstration."

Damage to property

Earlier in the day, students burnt two cars - one belonging to the university security services at Westville campus and the other a private vehicle at Howard College.

Police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to try to disperse the crowd as running battles with groups of students ensued and violence escalated.

Tyres, trees and other objects were also burnt to create makeshift barricades, blocking the police.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said Public Order Police had to be deployed to various universities in the city where students protested.

"We are on site keeping a strong presence."

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