Protests have ensued university of Kwa-Zulu Natal, supposedly relating to the pending fee increment across universities.
]Violent protests at the University of KwaZulu-Natal have led to the postponement of lectures until further notice.
During the early hours of Tuesday morning, students at the Howard College campus torched buildings and vehicles, including the Senate building. Earlier this evening, reports emerged of a fire inside the 44-year-old GM Sweeney law library. The Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses have also experienced student protest action throughout the week.
Sixteen students were reportedly arrested in connection with the protest action today, including the president of the Howard College SRC, Senzo Ngidi. “They believe if they arrest certain students, the strike will end. Arresting key individuals does not solve the problem,” said Pietermaritzburg campus SRC president Siphelele Nguse.
A statement released by UKZN spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka on Tuesday afternoon said the university has gone into a phase of shutdown.
“The University will be closed from Wednesday, the 7th until the19th of September 2016. The academic programme will resume on the 20th of September 2016,” he said. Vice-chancellor and principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld advised, in an email to the university, that management is making efforts to engage protesting students so to resume with the academic curriculum on September 20.
Disturbing images of injured students have emerged on social media amid allegations that police used live ammunition to disperse the students, which the university denied.
“South African Police Service, University Risk Management Services and Public Order Policing dispersed the crowds using rubber bullets and teargas,” said the statement released by Seshoka.
Seshoka said a list of 72 grievances and demands have been delivered by the student protesters. The list of grievances includes issues of fees, security and student representation on the executive committee.
The list of demands presented by the students will be tabled at a meeting of the university council to take place on September 19. Students are yet to release a statement on how they will proceed until then given the shutdown.
“We are not celebrating the suspension of classes,” said Nguse. The student representatives have dismissed the shutdown as the university’s effort to “buy time”, and will be demanding for council meeting to take place this week where they will submit a memorandum.
The recurring debate around damage to property during protests has resurfaced on social media. Some say the act cheapens the protest while others continue to support the act, citing that it is the only way to command attention.
Students at UKZN have expressed their dissatisfaction at the lack of attention given to the plight of their institution.
Wits Vuvuzela, UKZN closes residences due to protests, September 6, 2015
Wits Vuvuzela, Wits students march in solidarity with UKZN, September 12, 2016