/ 20 February 2008

TUT students arrested after violent protest

About 10 students from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) were arrested on Wednesday following a protest that turned violent, said Pretoria police.

Captain Dumisani Ndlazi said the 10, who were part of a protesting group, were arrested at the university’s main campus in Pretoria West.

”They were arrested after they destroyed university property,” said Ndlazi.

He said that police had to fire rubber bullets at the protesting group, who demanded a response from the institution following a memorandum of grievances handed over to it.

The students were protesting over fee hikes and academic exclusion.

”They will face charges of malicious damage to property,” said Ndlazi.

University vice-chancellor and principal Professor Errol Tyobeka said he was shocked at what had happened. He said it was unclear as to why the protest turned violent since the council was already committed to providing a response to the memorandum submitted to the university on Monday.

”The university regrets the inconvenience this protest action is causing to students, their parents and staff … We are still hopeful that we will resolve the issues as a matter of urgency, since broad-based agreement on most issues already exists,” he said.

University spokesperson Willa de Ruyter said the protest started at about 10.30am and the protesters dispersed at 2.30pm. She said the protesters broke windows and intimidated residential students.

Earlier on Wednesday, student leaders met with senior officials of the education department.

”I do not know the outcome of the meeting as it was a closed meeting,” said De Ruyter.

The South African Union of Students, which represents most student representative councils of universities in South Africa, confirmed that it attended the meeting.

Secretary general of the union Mbulelo Mandlana said: ”We attended the meeting called by the department. The meeting was called so the department could get a clear understanding about what students are upset about.”

Tyobeka called on students to refrain from violence.

The university would remain closed. — Sapa