News ยป Durban

Thabiso Goba
2 minute read
24 Jun 2022
08:23

Students allegedly torch Mangosuthu University of Technology in Durban

Thabiso Goba

The Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) have alleged that a group of students carrying a five-litre bottle of sanitiser torched the campus.

The Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) have alleged that a group of students carrying a five-litre bottle of sanitiser torched the campus.

Classes have been suspended at MUT following the overnight burning of university cars, several buildings and other damage to infrastructure.

Bheki Hlophe, MUT’s publications and media relations officer, released a statement on Thursday condemning the actions, saying students and staff were put in serious danger by the incident.

He said: 

“A group of about 30 students, some with their faces covered, started pelting security personnel at the main entrance with stones.”

Hlophe said security guards who were in a guard room near the entrance could not leave for fear of being struck by rocks.

“The protesting group proceeded to burn the guardhouse with security personnel inside; [however] security personnel managed to escape the guardhouse and left through the main entrance,” said Hlophe.

Following this, Hlophe said the students used the five litre container of sanitiser to start torching two university vehicles and a refrigerator before moving on to other buildings.

A total of three buildings were damaged, said Hlophe.

Mobile toilets, which were provided by the university due to Durban’s ongoing water crisis, were also torched.

Hlophe said the university has opened a case with Umlazi Saps.

He said: 

“Bringing the perpetrators of such illegal acts to book does not mean that MUT is trying to stifle protest within the university. Instead, the university supports the constitutional right to protest when such right is exercised within the confines of the law and in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of others.”

Hlophe said it is unclear where the protest stemmed from, as the university has not even received a memorandum of demands from the student leadership.

A member of MUT’s student representative council, who did not want their name to be published, said the SRC had nothing to do with the burning of the university.

The member said the SRC was against the damaging of infrastructure as a means of protest.

On Wednesday, the SRC released a statement calling for the university to expedite National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allowances, as students were writing examinations on empty stomachs.

“It is without a shadow of a doubt that students at MUT continue to experience harsher conditions as a result of the widespread food insecurity and despite little being done to address the problem; it remains a stumbling block to student’s academic success,” reads the statement.

Boysie Zungu, eThekwini Metro Police spokesperson, said along with the fire department, they responded to reports of a fire at the university on Thursday morning.

Zungu said when police arrived there were no students on the scene.