The University of South Africa’s (Unisa) Durban campus is to remain closed until further notice following a student protest, university principal Barney Pityana said on Monday.
”The campus is closed in light of what’s going on,” Pityana told reporters in Pretoria following the closure of the Unisa campus on Friday.
This was after a peaceful protest at the Durban campus turned violent last week.
A 22-year-old man — believed to be part of the protesting group — died following an apparent asthma attack on Thursday. The stand-off followed the university’s announcement of a new online registration process.
”The issue is particularly worrying,” said the principal.
The protest, which led to damage to the campus and the arrest of several students, was organised by the Young Communist League (YCL).
The students’ grievances were based around the new registration process.
Pityana, who described the incident as ”disastrous” and ”unlawful”, added that a university delegation including himself visited the campus on Friday.
”They [students] did not want to talk to us,” he said.
Police spokesperson Inspector Michael Read said the 22 students arrested in connection with the protest appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday on charges of public violence.
”The matter was remanded,” he said.
However, YCL provincial secretary Mlungisi Hlongwane said the students had been released. This was corroborated by Pityana, who said the students had been released on a warning.
The YCL confirmed that they organised the protest, adding that they would hold a meeting on Tuesday. ”We will be having a meeting tomorrow. Then on Wednesday we will be meeting with management,” said Hlongwane.
However, Hlongwane said the cause of the protest was over study material being provided on CDs. ”Most of the students come from disadvantaged areas and do not have access to computers,” he said. — Sapa