NEWS
20/03/2018 17:39 SAST | Updated 20/03/2018 17:39 SAST

UKZN Classes Suspended As Protests Erupt

The students say poor conditions at the residences and problems with the payout of some students' Nsfas allowances led to the protests.

Hundreds of students demonstrate as part of a nationwide movement against higher university tuition fees on October 11, 2016 in Durban.
Matt Kay/ AFP/ Getty Images
Hundreds of students demonstrate as part of a nationwide movement against higher university tuition fees on October 11, 2016 in Durban.

The academic programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal has been suspended following violent clashes between campus security and students on Tuesday.

In a communiqué to students by registrar Simon Mokoena, the university cancelled lectures until next week.

"[This is] due to the continued student protest and class disruptions while engaging the student leadership on the issues raised. All other university activities remain operational as normal."

Violent protests broke out at the Westville campus earlier on Tuesday. A group of around 200 students disrupted lectures, demanding that their fellow students join the protest action.

The students say poor conditions at the residences and problems with the payout of some students' National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) allowances led to the protests.

Speaking to News24, a student who did not want to be named said many non-striking students were being affected negatively.

"On one hand, our fellow students are forcing us out of lecture rooms and libraries. On the other side, the university says it is safe for us. What are we supposed to do? They are shooting students here. This is unfair."

Another student from the Westville residence said living conditions there were deplorable.

"There has been flooding and no repairs. The roof is not fixed and we are tired of living this way. We demand more."

Earlier in the day, the university instructed students to continue attending classes despite the disruptions.

"Groups of students are continuing to engage in violent protest action on the Westville campus today. The protesters have disrupted lecture venues and damaged property. Students and staff can rest assured that the situation is being closely monitored and contained. Please be vigilant of your surroundings and avoid areas of conflict," read the email.

But by 2pm, classes were suspended while university management and student leadership continued negotiations.

"The protesters are urged to desist from engaging in illegal and destructive acts, and allow space for consultation to take place."

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said police were at the university monitoring the situation.