The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has suspended its academic programme following fierce protests on Monday.
Protesters swarmed various university campuses across KwaZulu-Natal on Monday morning. The demonstrations, which were carefully planned to coincide with the start of the 2019 academic year, soon turned violent. UKZN Westville played host to particularly violent protests; a Risk Management Security (RMS) vehicle was torched, stones pelted police respondents and, as a result, the campus was evacuated and shutdown.
Watch: UKZN protests turn fiery
— nosipho mzobe (@Noccy_mzobe) February 4, 2019
#totalshutdown More Footage emerging of the vehicle overturned and lit on fire @UKZN Westville. @ECR_Newswatch spoke to a student who says they were chased out of class the morning. pic.twitter.com/Nt4hzYHuc5
— Nushera Raisa (@nushera) February 4, 2019
Following a morning of chaos, UKZN announced that it would be suspending its academic programme to ensure the safety of learners and staff. The University also noted that the suspension would allow for further engagements with disgruntled parties, stating:
“The Academic Programme is suspended with immediate effect and until further notice, on all University campuses. This follows student protest action on University campuses this morning.
The suspension will allow University Management space to engage with student leadership and address their grievances whilst ensuring the safety and security of all concerned. University Risk Management Services are monitoring all campuses to ensure the safety of students & staff.
The protest is in response to a provincial call to shutdown universities. University Management has received a Memorandum from the UKZN SRC.”
— Prahiel (@PrahielR) February 4, 2019
The UKZN Student Representative Council (SRC) called for the mass protests action, citing exclusionary policies as the cause for contempt. The call to action spread beyond just UKZN – inciting protests at other universities and campuses across the province, including, Durban University of Technology (DUT), Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) and University of Zululand (UniZulu).
SRC leaders from all affected universities have called for a provincial shutdown until their demands are met. The UKZN SRC demands, which are endorsed by other protest leaders, were listed in a statement which read:
“The UKZN SRC has decided to shut down university business until all students issues are being attended to and resolved. No classes shall continue where students are not cleared for registration, where students are not having conducive residencies, where students are being excluded from the system.”
SRC leaders from various universities also bemoaned the ‘incompetence’ of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for failing to fund applicants.