By Kaya 959 News
One person has been arrested following a day of violent protests at KwaZulu-Natal’s Mangosuthu University of Technology on Thursday.
A large group of students wearing red Tshirt burnt tyres and debris at the campus entrance. Students also played cat-and-mouse games with the cops, running out to hurl stones and rocks at them before running back to hide behind a gate at the entrance.
Police in Durban said a group of about 500 students took part in protest action and blocked the road. This also had a massive impact on traffic in the area.
“Students blocked part of the Mangosuthu Highway with fridges and burning tyres. They also threw stones at police officers. Public Order Police and Metro Police were on scene to stabalise the situation. A 24-year-old suspect was arrested for public violence,” Captain Nqobile Gwala said.
Gwala added that the roadway was cleared of the burning debris and reopened to traffic.
The protest forms part of ongoing unrest around the country by students calling for the government to scrap historical debt. Students are also calling on institutions to increase government funding for tertiary education and provide free registration, computers and data for students.
The clashes come a day after another Durban tertiary institution, the Durban University confirmed that all five of its campuses in the city will be shut indefinitely.
In a statement issued to the media, DUT said following the risk to health, safety and security, the University suspended the on-campus support for online registration, indefinitely. However, normal online registration will continue in the manner it has been all along; but without on-campus support. Simply, the influx of uninvited people on campus continues to violate the Covid-19 protocols.
On Tuesday, a large number of people invaded the Sports Centre on the Steve Biko campus in Durban. This was after they had reacted to “fake” social media posts inviting walk-ins to register at DUT. The University later implicitly denied having invited walk-ins to register on campus.
Overnight, a significant number of people continued to occupy the Sports Centre and refused the request to leave campus. Over the course of this morning, the situation escalated with protestors milling around outside the Steve Biko campus, hurling stones at buildings, damaging University property, barricading public roads, including several attempts to invade more buildings on campus.
The University has also called on all of the relevant law enforcement agencies to assist in calming this potentially dangerous situation.
The closure has prompted the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, to call for constructive engagement between the university management, university council and students through their representative council to ensure that both parties reach an amicable solution to challenges that face the university.
Committee chairperson, Philly Mapulane, said no challenge can be beyond their capacity to resolve.
“The committee appeals to all the leaders at the university to maintain peace at all the university campuses. We are appealing to everyone to avoid the use of force and violence at the university,” he said.