A 20-year-old Durban University of Technology (DUT) student was shot dead, allegedly during a scuffle with a private security guard, on a road near an administration building at the Steve Biko campus on Tuesday afternoon.
The EFF student command in KwaZulu-Natal claimed the student was one of their members.
South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson for KwaZulu-Natal Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed the incident.
“[About 30] students collected stones and rocks and went to the [DUT] block on Ritson Road and tried to storm the building while throwing rocks and bricks. One administration assistant and one security guard were injured during the incident, leading security to call for back-up,” she said.
Four students had been arrested for public violence, said Mbele.
African News Agency (ANA) understands that the female administration assistant had her nose broken during the violence and was hospitalised. The security guard has also been hospitalised.
The student was shot in the abdomen, said Mbele, although it was not yet clear who had shot him.
Police were still at the campus on Tuesday night.
DUT’s senior director for corporate affairs, Alan Khan, said in a statement that the student died while receiving medical attention at City Hospital.
“The identity of the student cannot be divulged at this stage,” said Khan.
The cause of death and details of the incident were still subject to police investigations, he said.
“DUT sends its deepest sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. We plead that the family and the university be offered the opportunity to grieve the passing of the student,” said Khan.
“As a result of this tragic incident and many other violent altercations, the university management has decided to close the university until further notice.”
The shooting follows unrest on several tertiary education institutions in the Durban area on Monday, although DUT was relatively quiet compared to other institutions.
The unrest took place during a “total shutdown” protest at several campuses, with vehicles being torched at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville and Howard College campuses. A guard hut was also set alight at the Westville campus.
Students were protesting funding delays with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and delayed registration processes.
Lessons were suspended at DUT on Tuesday and Wednesday, although the actual campus remained open.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the province’s member of the executive council (MEC) for economic development, currently acting as premier, Sihle Zikalala, called for “maximum restraint” and said he was prepared to meet with “stakeholders” at the institutions.
Zikalala also said it was “warped logic” for students to think that in order for their protests to have an impact, they had to destroy existing educational infrastructure.
“The burning of vehicles and buildings yesterday leaves a bitter taste and should be condemned by all the people of KwaZulu-Natal. We wish to state categorically that we fully understand and sympathise with the plight of poor students who find it impossible to meet rising education costs,” he said.
“We thank both student leadership and management in various tertiary institutions who have expressed their willingness to engage in a dialogue in order to turn around the situation,” said Zikalala.