ANCYL calls for calm as UKZN protests spread

Jeff Wicks, News24

Durban - "No violence in our name."

This was the message from KwaZulu-Natal ANC Youth League secretary Thanduxolo Sabela after police clashed with protesters at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Monday.

Police sources reported sporadic violence through the night, with the situation remaining calm but tense amid a formidable police presence on Tuesday.

Speaking to News24, Sabela said the laws of the country must be protected and respected.

"We actively distance ourselves from anyone who is perpetrating violence or destruction of property during this protest action," he said.

Police and security officials spent most of Monday in running battles with students on UKZN's Westville campus, who hurled rocks and bottles at them, as well as erecting burning barricades.

On Sunday night, a mob of students purportedly set fire to the administration block at the campus and destroyed a security office and two cars with petrol bombs.

"First and foremost, we are very clear that the laws of the country need to be respected. The law must take its course, even if a senior member of the youth league was arrested or linked to this," he said.

"We are a peaceful organisation and we believe in negotiation. We encourage law enforcement agencies to take strong action against those responsible for damage and violence and we say not in our name, this cannot happen in our name."

Sabela had yesterday called for students at other campuses to engage in protest after an apparent move by the university to close what is known as the Registration Appeals Committee process.

This process allows students owing money to the institution to enter into an agreement with it to pay their debts in instalments, while continuing with their studies.

A police source, who could not be named, confirmed that a crowd-management force was on alert at the Westville campus and that students had begun disrupting lectures at Howard College.

UKZN spokesperson Indu Moodley said a statement on the matter was not yet available.