Police were forced to fire rubber bullets to disperse a group of protesting University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) students who turned violent at the Pietermaritzburg campus yesterday.
Students were attempting to disrupt academic proceedings when classes resumed yesterday after the institution sporadically shut its doors on Monday due to anticipated protests against possible fee hikes. The upheaval comes as campuses across the country, including those of the University of Johannesburg and Wits, tighten security amid threats by students to protest against a likely fee increase in 2017.
“No arrests have been made at this stage and the public order police will continue to monitor the situation,” police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said. SA Union of Students (Saus) president Avela Mjajubana said the insourcing of workers – after alleged threats by the institution to retrench workers – was also on their list of demands.
“The institution agreed to insource [workers], but it had its own strategy of retrenching them,” Mjajubana said. “Students do not welcome that and want a strategy that will assist with insourcing, as we are in the process of building a student-worker alliance.”
UKZN could not immediately provide comment. Meanwhile, the union, representing students at 26 higher education institutions, said it was engaging students’ representative councils (SRC) throughout the country on a way forward regarding the possible fee hikes.
“We are planning a national executive committee meeting next week, where all SRC and student political organisations will discuss issues of higher learning education,” Mjajubana said.