The academic programme at all campuses of UKZN was suspended on Tuesday, and the September recess has been brought forward to begin on Wednesday, 7 September. In an email to students, Vice Chancellor Albert Van Jaarsveld stated that this decision was taken in light of the ongoing student protests, and the academic programme would resume on 20 September.
The decision comes after reports of gunfire at UKZN campuses emerged on social media platforms as police and private security faced off against protesters on Monday and Tuesday. “The situation on some of the UKZN campuses has become untenable and unfortunately we have no choice but to suspend the academic programme,” a notice from the university says. Students, however allege that police fired tear gas and rubber bullets without any provocation. In some instances, students allege that the police used live ammunition. However, KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Zwane, speaking to ENCA denied the allegation that police fired live ammunition at students.
“There was no live ammunition used. Police used rubber bullets to disperse the students. If anyone was shot with live rounds, they should report this at the police station.”
— IG: Andy_OnABoat_ (@AndyBinandy) September 6, 2016
Look guys, the intention of the strikers is to shut down campus today.They seem hella serious.I would suggest not getting in their way.#ukzn
— Larissa B (@laribuggy) September 6, 2016
According to the deputy president of the Howard campus SRC, Myende Sunshine, the protests on the three campuses are not coordinated. In a statement released on Monday, the university said it is committed to engaging with students to address their grievances, adding that it had obtained a high court interdict, which prohibits unlawful protests, disruptive gatherings, demonstrations, mass action, intimidation or any violent act to persons or property at the entrance and premises of university campuses.
“There are SRC members that were arrested two hours ago together with the SRC central president, Ngidi, in connection with the ongoing protest. We are still trying to negotiate with the management because they haven’t been taken to the police station yet,” Bongekile Ngobese, said Westville SRC community development officer.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse students from the Howard College campus at around 2pm on Tuesday. Some students were injured.
“Two students were shot, and the other one is in hospital and that other one is at the residence at the moment. Only the president general, along with other SRC members [were arrested]. Those that have been arrested yesterday appeared this morning, but they got out on bail. But those that were arrested this morning, they haven’t appeared before the court.”
It’s been reported that 16 people were detained during protests at the campus on Monday. Three of those arrested have been released because they could not be linked to the charges. According to students, teargas was thrown into one of the residences by police and Mi7 security. They then entered the residence and arrested students. Students allege that private security also detained other students who were walking around who had nothing to do with the protest. Most of those students had been taken from the Malherbe residence.
Just arrived at #UKZN Howard College and police have fired what appears as teargas at students, they are asking students to leave the campus
— SihleMlambo ✍️ (@SihleSays) September 6, 2016
Students have started questioning the silence of the university’s management.
“Ever since the shootings have been happening our vice chancellor has been quiet on all these issues. He continues to send emails that say that everything is under control, of which this is not correct. Last night, police went into students rooms, kicking them out; another gentleman was shot while taking a shower last night. All the police brutality that we are seeing, that happened at Marikana, is happening right now at this university. It’s about time that South Africans to stand up against police brutality, like it’s long overdue right now. We can’t take it anymore.”
Sunshine says that students don’t know what will happen tomorrow. The SRC wants to meet with management to negotiate issues, but the shutdown is affecting their studies.
“Time is flying and we can’t manage to lose this semester,” she said.
Protests at the campus continued on Tuesday morning, as students draw attention particularly to the practices of campus security.
Allegations have emerged that police raped a student at the Pietermaritzburg campus of the university on Monday night.
— Nsih Nonsi Sindi (@Nonsindiso_K) September 5, 2016
Overnight, students protesting against the cost of tuition were repelled by police and private security who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them. The SRC president says that the students were protesting against the fee increases and that they were protesting peacefully when the police shot rubber bullets and tear gas at the students.
According to East Coast Radio, the road was blocked with burning tyres, and protestors, thought to be students, allegedly stoned passing cars on New England Road and Alan Paton Avenue.
Six cars were torched in the early hours of Monday morning along with the Senate building. According to IOL, three of the burnt cars belong to the institution while the others are owned by two security companies.
There was also a large police presence on the campus on Tuesday.