Academics‚ students arrested at UKZN Maritzburg

24 October 2016 - 18:11 By Nathi Olifant

Two University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) academic staff members were arrested along with six students at the university’s Pietermaritzburg campus on Monday for “holding an illegal gathering” thus violating a court interdict. While the academics‚ Dr Clint le Bruyns a director of theology faculty and Jane Quinn were later released on warning‚ the students are being detained at the Alexander police holding cells. After his arrest‚ Le Bruyns slammed the university‚ saying it was not interested in a dialogue. He and Quinn have stood in solidarity with the students on the issue of #FeesMustFalls. He said theirs was no violation of the court interdict since it applied only to students. The academic said they had convened to seek input on how to remedy the situation on campus.“It was merely a conversation with students‚ civil society and members of the public to find a lasting solution to the crisis. It was no mass gathering‚” he said.Le Bruyns said police charged towards them and surrounded them at about 11.50am.“At least some of the students arrested were not part of the meeting but were merely passing by to their lectures. We were accused of violating the court interdict. Strange because that only applies to students not staff members or members of the public‚” he said.Le Bruyns said they were released on condition that they stop engaging with the students.“How can we as academic not interact with students? This is a public university and even members of the public are allowed to visit. It’s a bad‚ bad situation.”Le Bruyns had previously told a weekly newspaper that they found the terms of the court interdict to be draconian and the large presence of police and security personal unconducive to the enabling environment the university is meant to be.He said they invited the university’s vice-chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld to a public dialogue on the Pietermaritzburg campus.The written invitation had been penned by Pietermaritzburg student representative council president Siphelele Nguse and other signatories included Le Bruyns and Quinn.However‚ UKZN Registrar Simon Mokoena‚ writing on behalf of the vice chancellor‚ said they wouldn't engage with the group‚ warning that the university was not granting the permission for the meeting to take place.Nguse wrote to Van Jaarsveld: “We believe that you are fully aware of the situation on our campus. We also know from staff that you support the basic cause that students are articulating for themselves‚ the university‚ and the public good: a more just society”.- TMG Digital/The Times

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