Protest by students leads to ban

REGISTRATION at Durban University of Technology was suspended with immediate effect yesterday after violence broke out at the institution's Steve Biko campus.

Security guards fired rubber bullets at protesting students, injuring at least 10. Most suffered deep bruises. Police reinforcements from two units were also deployed to the campus.

"No major damage was reported and no arrests have been. Police will keep an eye on the situation," said police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge.

The student action marked day two of their protest against proposed registration and accommodation fees increases. They chanted slogans calling for the person in charge of the housing portfolio at the institution to be fired.

However, the protest was cut short mid-morning as students threatened to march on the registration venues.

The head of protection services at DUT, Patrick Pillay, said they were not against the protest but were against the damaging of property.

'My instruction to my security is not to shoot but calm things down. Unfortunately, we had to use minimum force on the students."

He said there were four venues where registration took place, including the financial aid department which deals with students' funding and which protesters could not access or damage, or injure non-protesters or administrative staff.

Students representative council leader Gwajo Hadebe rejected claims that students had damaged or had the intention of damaging property.

He accused security of firing indiscriminately on students, saying they (students) were still talking to security when shots were fired.

"DUT ANC Youth League branch secretary Thembelani Shongwe was shot at while speaking to Pillay," Hadebe said.

Pillay acknowledged the incident but said he did not know who had given the orders to fire.

"We want the Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande to come to DUT and see what is happening. We will continue until our demands are met," said Hadebe.

MP Vusi Dube was called to DUT by the students.

"I will ask for a written report from the director of protection service William Fleming, stating the reasons for using force against the students," said Dube.

Late yesterday DUT management issued a statement suspending the registration temporarily with immediate effect, stating that the registration process would resume on Monday.

"Management is concerned about the safety of staff, students, parents and university property and will engage in negotiations with the SRC to find solutions to issues raised by students," a DUT statement said.