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Giordano Stolley, Miranda Andrew06 Mar 2008 16:04
At least 125 students were arrested during a protest at Durban’s Mangosuthu University of Technology on Thursday, police said.
Captain Khephu Ndlovu said the students would face charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.
One of those who was arrested had to be taken to hospital after she fainted.
Violence erupted for a third day in a row at the university and in the surrounding areas as police and students clashed.
Police fired rubber bullets at protesting students, who retaliated by throwing rocks and bottles and setting alight debris on the Mangosuthu Buthelezi Highway, which runs past the institution in Durban’s Umlazi area.
Police then closed off the highway, which was barricaded with broken branches and bags of rubbish by the students. When police opened fire, students ran into neighbouring houses.
A woman was seen running into her house carrying a toddler in her arms, while students hiding behind the house threw bottles and rocks at the police.
One bystander was hit by a rubber bullet that left a deep gash above his left eye.
Reluctant to give his name, he said he was not a student but a petrol attendant at a nearby petrol station.
Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha said three people were taken to the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital.
One was in a serious condition as he had suffered spinal injuries, apparently sustained as a result of being shot in the neck with rubber bullets.
Local shopkeepers operating out of containers alongside the highway battened down the hatches when the fighting started.
The students were protesting against the dismissal of three Students Representative Council (SRC) members, poor bus services and an apparent shortage of lecturers.
The institution has 9 145 registered students.
In a pamphlet distributed on Wednesday, the university’s vice-chancellor Professor Aaron Ndlovu said that in the event of the closure of the campus, all students would be required to immediately leave the premises.
Repeated attempts on Thursday to obtain comment from Ndlovu or university management were unsuccessful.
SRC president Brian Masondo said on Thursday that an agreement had been reached with the university to meet with the SRC and its three suspended members.
However the meeting would not go ahead until the people arrested were released.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Youth Brigade claimed in January that the university’s management had prevented the SRC from carrying out its duties after its student wing, Sadesmo, won nine of the 12 seats on the SRC.
On Thursday Alfred Mpontshane, the IFP’s education spokesperson, said: “The current situation at the university is a national disgrace and the IFP would like to call on the parliamentary portfolio committee on education to intervene by arranging a fact-finding mission to the university as a matter of urgency.” - Sapa
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