Correctional Services spokesman Manelisi Wolela has denied allegations that student leader Mcebo Dla.
Infuriated residents of T-section in Umlazi, south of Durban, brought traffic to a standstill when they barricaded the busy Mangosuthu Highway, which leads to the Mangosuthu University of Technology's main entrance.
And a 23-year-old man was shot and wounded while residents mobilised.
The protesters were armed with pangas, knobkerries and guns.
They burnt tyres and other rubble.
Some residents fired shots in the air as early as 4am. No permission was sought for the march.
The protesters, who claimed to be parents of students, demanded the immediate resignation of rector Mseshi Aaron Ndlovu and that he reinstate 16 suspended students.
Ndlovu is known to be a member of the ANC.
The protesters, who displayed IFP regalia, also demanded answers to why only certain students were singled out for suspension.
Those suspended are two from the South African Students Congress, 13 from the South African Democratic Student Movement and one independent student leader.
The marchers' leader, Robert Mazibuko, denied that the protest was political, though it was apparently dominated by IFP-aligned "parents".
"This action is about parents wanting their children to have a better future," Mazibuko said. "Ndlovu is set on destroying the future of the children.
"As parents we are concerned about the future of our children who were suspended after their protest last month."
He said students were demanding their rights and there had been no need for Ndlovu to suspend them.
Mazibuko said the gates must be reopened to the suspended students.
"We also appeal to the education authorities to provide leadership at the institution," he said.
"We feel our children must attend classes seeing that they are about to write their exams."
Ndlovu accepted the memorandum under the watchful eye of heavily-armed police.
He promised residents he would respond soon amd made no further comment.
SRC president Brian Masondo said a hearing for suspended students was scheduled for May 11.
"This day is close to our examinations," Masondo said.
"All we want now is to go back to classes."
Police spokesman Khephu Ndlovu said the police would monitor the situation.