DURBAN - SIXTEEN students were arrested at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), after a violent protest yesterday that led the university to close its five campuses.
More than 800 students embarked on the protest, after DUT said in a statement on Tuesday night that it had decided to immediately suspend on-campus support for online registration. The move by the university came after thousands of prospective students descended on DUT’s Steve Biko campus on Tuesday, seeking help with registration.
DUT said students arrived at the campus after unauthorised social media posts inviting applicants were circulated.
The protesters gathered outside the Steve Biko Campus yesterday morning, where DUT student representative council (SRC) president Zabelo Ntuli told the students they would be shutting down the university with immediate effect.
Ntuli blamed the institution for failing to assist the students who arrived on campus on Tuesday.
He said the SRC had sent a list of demands to the university.
“The university called you to come here and made fools of you at the end of the day. We are shutting down the institution until all demands are met,” said Ntuli, while speaking to the students.
As part of the demands, the SRC wants student allowances to kick in immediately, for the university to do away with private accommodation, and for students to be registered on campus only.
Ntuli said the online registration system failed students, especially black disadvantaged students from rural areas.
The students protested outside Ritson and Steve Biko campuses, and blocked Steve Biko Road with rocks and sticks.
The protest escalated when the students forced their way on to the Steve Biko Campus, hurled stones at buildings, damaged university property and attempted to invade buildings.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said the students gained access by breaking the gate.
She said they also damaged computers and set alight a university vehicle. She said Public Order Police used stun grenades to disperse the protesters and 16 students were arrested for public violence, being part of an illegal gathering, as well as malicious damage to property.
In a statement issued yesterday by DUT’s senior director of corporate affairs Alan Khan, the institution reiterated that it had not invited walk-ins to register on campus.
Khan said the students who arrived at the institution were responding to “fake” social media posts, and the influx of uninvited people on campus continued to violate the Covid-19 protocols.
“As a result, all five Durban campuses of the university will be closed until further notice. All online university functions and activities will continue.
“This means that online registration for first-time entering students, with firm offers, will proceed as previously announced,” said Khan.
Students at the Durban University of Technology have forcefully made their way to the university campuses this morning.— Sakhiseni Nxumalo (@SakhiNxumalo) April 7, 2021
More than 800 students embarked on a March around after the university cancelled campus registration until further notice yesterday. @TheMercury #DUT pic.twitter.com/Jga75HZWIk
WATCH: A number of #DUT students walk ins being arrested by the police outside the university. This comes after they protested outside the institution, demanding registration to resume with immediate effect. @TheMercury pic.twitter.com/u82wYmjaKJ— Sakhiseni Nxumalo (@SakhiNxumalo) April 7, 2021