“We have made it clear we are not ready to resume classes without certainty of safety within our learning environment.”

Classes at Durban University of Technology (DUT) have not resumed since being suspended on September 16 following student protests after a first-year student was stabbed in a lecture hall at the Steve Biko campus.

Eighteen-year-old Sandile Ndlovu was admitted to the intensive care unit at Durban’s City Hospital on September 9, where he died almost two weeks later. He had sustained fatal stab wounds to the head.

DUT students, led by the SRC, marched to vice-chancellor Professor Thandwa Mthembu’s office and protested outside the gates of the Steve Biko campus on September 12, demanding that the security company be removed and for the university to release CCTV footage from the lecture hall. #JusticeForSandile was the main hashtag that gained momentum on social media.

In a media briefing on September 23, SRC president Thamsanqa Memela said, “What is ironic about all these incidents is that no one saw anything. The cameras of the university are not working when someone is murdered during daylight.” CCTV footage was, however, always available to “persecute” student protesters.

The deputy secretary-general of the DUT Student Representative Council (SRC), Andisiwe Dyantyi, told Wits Vuvuzela, “We do not feel safe at all, therefore we have requested management to call off the contract with the current security company because ever since they came to office we have seen no change, but we experience tragedies over and over.”

According to Dyantyi, the university is allegedly not taking appropriate action but has claimed it has installed more cameras on the campus and has suspended the head of security of the institution.

“We have made it clear we are not ready to resume classes without certainty of safety within our learning environment,” said Dyantyi.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thulani Zwane told Wits Vuvuzela, “We currently don’t have any suspects and we are appealing to people for information and possible witnesses to come forward. The case is too sensitive and we can’t divulge any more information.

“We have opened an investigation for murder. It is not attempted murder any more. We have not made any arrests yet,” he said.

The DUT communications department had not responded to Wits Vuvuzela’s queries by the time of going to print, even though university spokesperson Alan Khan had promised in an email that, “My colleagues will respond to your media query in due course.”

Timeslive reported on Wednesday, September 25, that the university “believes the prime suspects in the stabbing of Sandile Ndlovu could only be fellow students”. Mthembu was quoted as saying: “The university also provided the police with additional and useful information on the identities of student movements around the lecture hall and library. In fact, based on all the information we have, the prime suspects in the case so far could only be students.”

Ndlovu’s funeral is set to take place in his home town, Nelspruit, on Saturday, September 28.

FEATURED IMAGE: DUT  students protest after the death of fellow student, Sandile Ndlovu. Photo: Provided