DUT chaos: 16 arrested, campuses closed and Covid-19 rules ignored as hoax triggers registration rush
The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has shut all five of its Durban campuses after hundreds of prospective students clashed with the police after their unsuccessful attempts to register.
The clashes were trigged by a rush of students to the institution after a fake social media post on Tuesday that said DUT was accepting walk-ins for registration.
In a statement on Wednesday, DUT spokesperson Alan Khan said a large number of people invaded the sports centre on the Steve Biko campus in Durban on Tuesday.
“This was in reaction to fake social media posts inviting walk-ins to register at DUT. The university had not invited walk-ins and because of the risk to health, safety and security, the university suspended the on-campus support for online registration yesterday [Tuesday] indefinitely. However, normal online registration will continue in the manner it has been all along, but without on-campus support,” said Khan.
He said the influx of uninvited people on campus continued to violate Covid-19 protocols.
The situation escalated on Wednesday, with protesters causing chaos along the main road outside the Steve Biko campus.
“Overnight, a significant number of people continued to occupy the sports centre and refused the request to leave campus. Over the course of this morning [Wednesday], the situation escalated, with protesters milling around outside, hurling stones at buildings, damaging university property and barricading public roads,” he said.
Khan added that there were “several attempts to invade more buildings on campus”.
He said that despite all campuses closing, university functions and activities would continue.
“This means that online registration for first-time entering students with firm offers will proceed as previously announced,” he said.
eThekwini metro police spokesperson Snr Supt Parboo Sewpersad said a group of 5,000-plus unregistered youths forced their way on to the campus on Wednesday morning, demanding to be registered.
“They broke a gate and went to the admin building demanding to be registered.”
Sewpersad said the volatile situation resulted in one member being injured and a state vehicle being damaged.
“Two members in a state vehicle were attacked with bottles and stones by a mob of students along Steve Biko Road. They managed to escape but one was injured on his face and thigh,” he said.
He said members of the public order police unit were deployed to quell the situation, which resulted in the arrest of 16 people, aged between 17 and 25.
Meanwhile, DA Students Organisation (Daso) federal deputy chairperson Sakhile Mngadi, together with constituency head and MP Hannah Winkler, was set to conduct an official oversight visit regarding the current status of the registration processes at DUT on Thursday.
In a statement, Daso said it was concerned by the situation.
“During our previous inspection visit, it was clear that the university had lost control over its ability to regulate its registration processes and adherence to the Covid-19 regulations. Over 5,000 students gathered, in serious contravention of the level 1 Covid-19 regulations, which puts the entire country at risk as we are aware of how super-spreader events occur,” he said.
Daso said that with the third wave of Covid-19 looming, the lack of control and adherence by the university [to Covid-19 protocols] placed many lives at risk.
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