Varsity students and police battle it out

VIOLENCE erupted yesterday at the Mangosuthu University of Technology in Umlazi as angry students went on the rampage, pelting police and campus security with stones and eggs.

Students from both the ANC-aligned Sasco and IFP-aligned Sadesmo organisations acted together in the protest and demanded that the institution address their grievances.

They blocked entrances to the campus, using old scrap metal sheeting. Police reinforcements were called in to calm the situation. When the students tried to storm the administration block, public order policing unit members ordered them to disperse. The angry students started hurling stones and eggs at the police who retaliated by firing rubber bullets and using water cannons.

Traffic on the Mangosuthu Highway came to a standstill for more than an hour and the highway leading to Umlazi township was completely blocked.

One student was arrested during a scuffle with police and a passer-by was injured.

Some students stoned passing motorists while street vendors ran for cover, ducking flying rubber bullets and stones.

Students demanded that there should be no fee increment for the year and that students be given proper accommodation.

SRC president Dumo Ntyinkale said they were unhappy that management had failed to provide proper accommodation for students.

"They know that a number of students were killed outside campus last year after they became easy prey for criminals. All we ask for is for management to come to a round table to discuss how to resolve students' problems.

"We have found a building in town that can be used as students' accommodation but management refuses to rent or buy it, claiming that there is no money.

"Money is being used to provide unnecessary security in other residences. They must reduce security personnel to pay for accommodation," he said.

Ntyinkale said management had increased fees without consulting the students. He said they also want the dean of students, Thami Mchunu, to resign.

Superintendent Buhle Ngidi said police would remain on campus until the situation was peaceful and under control.

"Police used rubber bullets to disperse the students after they were pelted with stones," she said.

University management was not available for comment yesterday as they were locked in a meeting.

Operations at the Umlazi campus were called off for the day.

Last week similar protests broke out at the nearby Durban University of Technology.