Reports came in on Monday night that a building and vehicles on UKZN’s Westville campus had been set alight, and that police and private security had been deployed to disperse students who had been meeting on the campus that evening. The Daily Vox spoke to a student who describes how police and private security entered residences in a bid to instil fear in students.
On Monday night, there was a gathering of students trying to discuss the issues that are faced by students at the Westville campus. As we know, the management has refused to sit down with the students’ leadership to discuss the memorandum. There was no consensus. So the students were discussing why the student leaders are not reporting back to them.
The mass demonstration was initiated and then the students were very angry at the management for not taking them seriously, because what has been happening the past few days, the VC was stubborn and arrogant and refused to meet with the student leadership. By him doing that, he was cancelling the classes only. So that meant all operations at the university carried on. So students tried to meet and consolidate and find out what happened in that one week staying at home. So that was that whole issue. When the VC opened classes, there was no proper email about the time loss. Because the VC controls the activities of the campus.
The cops came in numbers and when they came, they pepper sprayed us, they gave no warnings to students as students were still standing. They shot the students with rubber bullets and they brutally assaulted anyone who was coming from the library.
I don’t believe they are allowed to do that but they are forcefully entering. It’s like they are instructed to stop students from expressing their views. They assault anyone standing in the way. They are instilling fear into the students.
The residences are divided by gender. A block for females, B block for males. C block for postgraduate. D for females. E for males. Privacy and freedom were really broken there.
The management hasn’t said anything. We are hoping they can sit with student leaders and discuss the issues. They are arrogant, they haven’t responded to the memorandum. We just want feedback, at least attend to the basic needs of students like residences not being in order, like student leadership not being represented in the executive committee management – which is the highest decision-making body.
It was very traumatising because they were not just entering. They were assaulting and swearing, even physically beating the students who were in their rooms. They were responding to the brutality of the private security company.
All the police brutality needs to be exposed, it’s been long overdue. Been @ Westville campus for years, new res was always victimized #UKZN
— XCIV (@Gee_4th) September 6, 2016
You know, one can best hope that the people in the high structures including our governance of our country can intervene because I believe freedom of expression is still allowed in this country.
University management must be willing to sit down with students and discuss the issues. After all, they are the major stakeholders of this university and they must be protected.
They have said nothing because as you can see it is still continuing this morning. More students were taken away. Students didn’t want to attend classes. They wanted to meet and the next thing you know they were taken away. They were arrested. There were female students in this group who were carrying bags and going to class at that time.
#UKZN Westville | Police have confirmed 20 students have been taken in for questioning this morning after six cars & Senate building torched
— SihleMlambo ✍️ (@SihleSays) September 6, 2016
They should have brought female cops around campus to show they are trying to prevent vandalism of property but at the same time, listen to our grievances. It shows how arrogant the management is. It’s not taking the student leadership seriously.
I think that issue needs to be addressed seriously because, at first that mass demonstration was not violent. So it’s not making sense for the management to bring mob protection for leadership who was trying to engage peacefully with students.