There was a fire out-break at University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus late on Monday night. The senate chamber building and six cars were burned during the incident.
On Tuesday, police confirmed that students were involved in an illegal protest at the Westville campus, at about 11pm.Police spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane, said: “Buildings were vandalised and six cars were burnt. 20 students were taken into custody for questioning”he said.
University spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said three of the burnt cars belonged to the institution, while the others were owned by two security companies.
The area around UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus was on Monday declared a “no-go zone” by police. Angry students burned campus vending machines, tyres and branches in King Edward Avenue, Alan Paton Drive and Ridge Road.The protesting students stoned passing motorists and police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the students.
Protesting students interrupted classes threatened and dragged their fellow students out of lecture halls.The weapons they gathered include sticks, pipes and bricks.Several students and fire officials had to be treated for smoke inhalation because of the fires started on the streets.
Students, who were not part of the protests, complained bitterly about the violence.
“We are all suffering as a result of their actions.
“We are all being painted with the same brush and not getting on with our studies because of these students who insist on behaving violently. It feels like this is never going to end,” said one third-year commerce student.
The protests appear to have been sparked by rumours of an imminent announcement of a fee hike. Students are fighting for a repeat of last year’s 0% increase.But universities have said they cannot afford another year without an increase.