The demands of the students remain unclear and the university had not yet clarified what triggered the protests. University spokesman Lesiba Seshoko confirmed that a decision was taken on Wednesday night by UKZN management to close the university for two more days.
This meant students would only return to the University on September 29 after the spring recess, which starts at the end of this week. Details surrounding the protests at the university’s Pietermaritzburg campus were sketchy and could not immediately be confirmed.
There were unconfirmed reports that a vehicle was tipped over and that a security guard had to be taken to hospital after he was assaulted by students. Police spokesman Major Thulani Zwane could not immediately confirm the assault, but said: “A case of public violence was opened at Alexandra Road after campus property and two vehicles were damaged last night. No arrest has been made at this stage.”
The university had been wracked by violence since the beginning of the week, with the first protests breaking out at its Westville campus on Sunday night when two cars were burnt and an office building was petrol bombed.
The ANC Youth League claimed in a statement that the university had terminated what is known as the Registration Appeals Committee (RAC) process. This process allows students owing the university tuition fees to enter into an agreement with the institution to pay their debts in instalments while continuing with their studies.
However, the university has claimed that it has received no formal complaints or demands. Lukhanyo Mtshingana, the lone student arrested in connection with protests at the Westville campus on Sunday and Monday, made a brief appearance in the Pinetown Magistrate’s court on Tuesday.
National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said Mtshingana faced a charge of public violence and a charge of malicious damage to property.
She said he was expected back in court next Wednesday for a formal bail application. He was remanded in custody until then.