UKZN students continue fiery rampage as minister denounces violence

30 January 2020 - 11:09 By Orrin Singh

Students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's (UKZN's) Howard College campus continued to disrupt the registration process on Thursday in an attempt to have their grievances heard.

Police spokesperson Brig Jay Naicker said that around 7.30am about 100 students began protesting. 

“They went into the Shepstone Building registration point and activated a fire extinguisher and dispersed the students who were waiting to register. They then proceed to set bins on fire behind the library.”

Naicker said public order police were deployed to arrest the offenders.

“The students ran into various parts of the campus when approached by police. The situation is being monitored. No injuries were reported and the fire was extinguished.” 

Thursday marked the fourth day of violent protests that have gripped a number of the university's five campuses. 

In the early hours of Wednesday morning students torched the risk management service's building at the Westville campus. 

A short while later at Howard College a student's vehicle was torched. 

Four people were arrested for the attack. 

The unrest is related to demands outlined in a memorandum by the SA Union of Students (Saus), submitted on behalf of university SRCs of all 26 public universities and received by minister of higher education and training Blade Nzimande on January 16.

Saus's main demand is the eradication of historic debts, allowing students to register while still owing money.

In a letter of response to Saus secretary-general, Lwandile Mtsolo, Nzimande said: “Unfortunately, public funds for the university system are constrained and there is no possibility that debts of students who are not NSFAS-qualifying can be eradicated by government.”

Student leaders told TimesLIVE this week they would continue their fight until their demands were met. However, they distanced themselves from damaging university property. 

On Wednesday, Nzimande condemned violent student protests which provided no solution to student concerns.

“Protesting students must refrain from intimidating the general student population and university employees by making inflammatory and provocative statements that incite violence,” Nzimande said.