Reports of arrests as students battle campus security at UKZN PMB campus

    The Daily Vox has received reports from students that four students have been apprehended at the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of Kwazulu Natal (UKZN).

    SAPS have denied involvement in these arrests and the university has reserved comment.

    However, Siphelele Nguse, the pesident of the SRC at the Pietermaritzburg campus says that students have been arrested for attempting to disrupt the academic programme.

    Classes have resumed as planned this week following the one-week shutdown of all UKZN campuses due to protests over tuition hikes, residences, security and friction between student groups.

    UKZN remains shut down while students and management continue negotiations

    The reports of arrests come after clashes between students and campus security.

    “Students went from res to res mobilising each other. After the mobilisation, most of the students dispersed. At around 11pm, the remainder of the students returned onto main campus where they were eventually dispersed by rubber bullets and teargas from [private security] MI7 and SAPS,” said a student, who asked to stay anonymous.

    A female student was reportedly reported injured in the clashes.

    Nguse said it was not clear what provoked the standoff between students and security.

    “Some allege that the students were the ones provoking MI7, some allege that the MI7 is the one that provoked students. We are on both sides of the jury, we do not know which one we believe,” Nguse said.

    The university did not comment on allegations that campus security had been deployed to the students’ meeting, and the situation at UKZN remains tense.

    On Wednesday morning, it emerged that firefighters were battling to put out fires consuming an exam hall at the Pietermaritzburg campus – the second suspected arson attack to hit the university this week.

    A student at UKZN told the Daily Vox that the fire broke out when everybody was asleep.

    “It happened at around 4. Firefighters were still at the scene at 7am.”

    UKZN spokesperson, Lesiba Seshoka said the cause of the fire has not yet been established.

    UKZN PMB fire 2

    “Security officials suspect arson. An investigation is currently underway. University Risk Management Services and Public Order Policing are on high alert and monitoring the campus,” he said.

    Following the events at the Howard campus, vice-chancellor of UKZN, Albert van Jaarsveld, sent out a communiqué reassuring students that the academic programme will resume as normal on all campuses. Van Jaarsveld also urged students to refrain “from engaging in illegal and destructive acts” and to allow room for consultation.

    UKZN PMB fire 3 VC statement

    It remains unclear whether the burning down of the cafeteria at the Howard Campus and the burning down of the exam venue in Pietermaritzburg are related. Captain Nqobile Gwala of the SAPS in Pietermaritzburg says that the investigations into the fires continue.