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Student protests turn ugly

By Khulekani Mazibuko | Mar 16, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

STUDENT protests turned ugly at the Durban University of Technology Midlands campus yesterday.

Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse protesters, leaving two students seriously injured. Ten others were arrested.

The police were pelted with stones, while some students vandalised fire extinguishers on the premises.

Lectures at the institution were postponed until Thursday.

More than 800 students protested over increased food and beverage prices.

"One student was struck by a rubber bullet in the head and the other was struck in the abdomen," Nedcare 911 spokesperson Jeff Wicks said.

"They were treated and stabilised on the scene by paramedics.

"They were then taken to the Edendale Hospital for further medical attention."

Students representative council secretary Sicelo Mabizela said the students' grievances included soaring canteen food prices, security, transport, student housing renovations and academic resources closing early.

He said students lives were at risk since outsiders entered the premises without producing valid student cards.

"Criminals even know which buildings house female students only," Mabizela said.

"The library and computer rooms close at 9pm, which is early for students who want to excel academically."

He said students want these resources to close at midnight or function 24 hours a day.

Acting vice-chancellor Nqabomzi Gawe said: "Management at the DUT has temporarily closed its Midlands campus following student protests against the cost of food supplied by a service provider.

"The DUT has only one contracted service provider at both the Indumiso and Riverside sites.

"According to the agreement the service provider is allowed to sell takeaway items at market-related prices.

"The contract further allows for cooked meals to be subjected to negotiated prices based on inflation."

She said management was reviewing the students' grievances and would give them feedback on Thursday.


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