EFF blamed after violence flares up again at UKZN's Westville campus

13 March 2019 - 18:12 By Yasantha Naidoo
Security was tight at UKZN's Westville campus on Wednesday after protesters set fire to a building and damaged property.
Security was tight at UKZN's Westville campus on Wednesday after protesters set fire to a building and damaged property.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

Protesters who set fire to a building and vehicles and threw rocks at police and private security at the Westville campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) on Wednesday are "hooligans", according to the president of the university's student representative council (SRC).

Students set fire to a building and a quad bike at the Risk Management Service building, and threw rocks at the windows of a guard house.

Lectures resumed at the campus on Wednesday after violent protests led to the suspension of the academic programme last week. 

SRC leaders met with university management on Tuesday, when the student body agreed to suspend protests pending the resolution of student grievances. 

SRC president Sanele Hlongwa slammed the latest protests on Wednesday as "hooliganism outside the mandate of the SRC". 

"This appears to be politically motivated behaviour driven by the upcoming elections. It is clear someone wants to show their masters that they can control the university," he said.

Hlongwa said those responsible for this week's destruction did not have student issues or grievances at heart. "We met with the management on Tuesday and no one raised any student issues or grievances. That was the forum to raise it. This has nothing to do with students and everything to do with politics. These protest are the work of hooligans."

Normah Zondo, UKZN's acting executive director of corporate relations, confirmed that a group of students had embarked on violent protest action and disrupted the academic programme.

"The protesters committed acts of arson, causing grave damage to university property, including buildings. One student was injured in the fracas and received medical attention at the university clinic," she said.

Zondo said the protest action on Westville campus was led by EFF students who had raised grievances outside the formal agreement reached between management and the SRC following two days of deliberations.

"It must be noted that the EFF students were part of all discussions and the formal agreement reached," she said, adding that university management did not tolerate criminal behaviour or the intimidation of staff and students.

Sfundo Dlamini, chairperson of the EFF on Westville campus, did not respond to queries from TimesLIVE.

SAPS spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed that protesters had set fire to a building, a quad bike and a motorbike, and also damaged windows of a building. 

She said a case of public violence was being investigated, adding that police were still stationed at the campus to monitor the situation.