DUT SRC president says the charges against him are false 

THE SRC president at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) who appeared in court on September 20, on charges of attempted murder and public violence, has denied that he attempted to set a security guard alight during a student protest.

Thamsanqa Memela told Wits Vuvuzela the charges were “a ploy to shift the narrative from focusing on the problems students are facing at the university”.

“No one tried to burn the security guard,” said the 21-year old BSc student.

Memela said that on Wednesday, September 18, students had been protesting at a park away from the university, for safety and security on campus and the removal of the security company employed by the university. The protest followed the stabbing of a student, Sandile Ndlovu, in a lecture hall on September 9 and referenced the death in February of another student, Mlungisi Madonsela, allegedly shot by security guards during a protest.

Ndlovu subsequently died in hospital on September 20.

According to Memela, “The security guard provoked people at the park [and] people acted back. Strike force (security guards) came and arrested everyone at the park, saying that their mandate was to arrest SRC members.

“The reason for us being accused is to shift focus [from] shutting down the institution,” said the third-year environmental studies student, who appeared in the Durban Magistrates’ Court  with nine other students. They were each granted bail of R2 000.

“Security in our institution is very poor and thugs enter the premises and rob students,” said the SRC president, who added that the call for the removal of the security company was his idea: “I am the one who came up with the idea to chase this company out … and once I am suspended I won’t [be able to] attend council meetings; that is why they also suspended [SRC secretary-general] Nhlakanipho Sithole.”

Captain Nqobile Gwala, SAPS spokesperson, told Wits Vuvuzela that “a 27-year-old security guard who works at the tertiary institution was on his way to work, walking along Botanic Gardens, when he was attacked by a group of angry students. They assaulted and attempted to set him alight but [he] managed to escape.”

The SRC president said he had received a precautionary suspension from the university for “destroying property and attempting to burn a security guard”.

The students are set to appear in court on December 4.

The DUT authorities had not responded to a request for comment at the time of going to press.

FEATURED IMAGE:  The DUT campus, where SRC president says charges are false.                 Photo: Provided