UKZN in talks with SRC over violent protests

Kaveel Singh, News24

Durban – The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and its student representative council (SRC) were engaged in talks on Wednesday, in an attempt to calm violent protests.

Violence erupted on Tuesday night and early on Wednesday morning, with students burning a bus and allegedly throwing petrol bombs at police.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said Public Order Police members were deployed to "monitor a protest situation at the Pietermaritzburg campus last night".

It is alleged that approximately 600 students threw stones, bottles and other objects at the police officials.

"The police tried to calm the crowd and the crowd became aggressive and threw four petrol bombs at the police, who then fired rubber bullets and CS Gas to disperse the unruly crowd. After many interventions by police, the students finally dispersed peacefully," Naicker said.

UKZN Executive Director for Corporate Relations, Lesiba Seshoka, said the university experienced sporadic violence overnight on the Pietermaritzburg and Edgewood Campuses.

"A bus belonging to a private company was burnt on the Pietermaritzburg campus in the early hours of this morning, and an investigation into the acts of misconduct and violence is under way. Arrests have been effected by the South African Police Services (SAPS).

"The university management condemns in the strongest possible terms the wanton violence and damage that is being perpetrated on our campuses," Seshoka said.

Seshoka added that management was engaging with members of the SRC "to understand the causes of the unrest and to address the student grievances, and remains committed to a process of consultation and dialogue with students".

SRC representatives were locked in meetings at the time of going to press.