cops open fire as tut protest turns ugly

CAMPUS CLASH: A protest at the Tshwane University of Technology turned violent yesterday when police firing rubber bullets at students and staff who the police said had thrown stones at them. 11/02/09. Pic. Werner Beukes. © Sapa.
CAMPUS CLASH: A protest at the Tshwane University of Technology turned violent yesterday when police firing rubber bullets at students and staff who the police said had thrown stones at them. 11/02/09. Pic. Werner Beukes. © Sapa.

Police fired rubber bullets at students stoned them during a protest over wage increases at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria yesterday.

Police fired rubber bullets at students stoned them during a protest over wage increases at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria yesterday.

A journalist, a university employee and a disabled student were reported to have been injured at the campus's main gate when police fired at striking members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union and the National Union of Tertiary Employees of SA.

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema criticised Education Minister Naledi Pandor for "not resolving the TUT dispute".

"She must use her fake accent to address our problems," Malema told hundreds of students and staff.

His comments came after management on Tuesday announced that the institution would be closed due to ongoing protests by both students and staff over ongoing staff salary negotiations.

Nehawu president Noluthando Sibiya said the unions involved in the strike had not been informed of the minister's decision.

She said Nehawu had approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in order to force management to engage with the unions in further talks.

University spokesman Willa de Ruyter said in a statement that the decision to close the university was taken following "the intimidation" of non-striking staff by some union members over the past few days.

She said the decision was also influenced by violence and vandalism during the strike.

"The safety of staff, students and university property is our primary concern and management has taken the decision to avoid any threat to the safety of people's lives or TUT property," De Ruyter said.

However, registration outside the Pretoria campus would continue for senior students with pin numbers who did not have any block on their accounts.

"Students who want to enrol for BTech degrees and who have not yet been approved by their academic department, should contact their department upon the re-opening of the university," De Ruyter said.

The final closing date for registration would be extended but the new date would only be announced when the university re-opened, she said. - Sapa

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