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Students block University of Zululand campus

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Attack on student triggers demand for better security

Photo of crowd with police officer
A police officer throws tear gas at protesting students. Photo: Musa Binda
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An angry crowd of students from the University of Zululand (UniZulu) brought the KwaDlangezwa area to standstill on Monday.

They blocked an entrance to the main campus with burning tyres, trees and rubble. They then went on to block the R102 and N2 freeway.

The students were protesting against the high level of crime in the private residences where they live. This follows an attack on a student last last week that has left him fighting for his life.

The residences are made up of a number of cottages and are owned by locals who saw a business opportunity after the university residences filled up. The residences accommodate about 5,000 students while the institution enrols about 15,000 students.

The secretary of the South African Student Congress (SASCO) on the campus, Siyabonga Mthethwa, said students wanted the university to implement the solutions they came up with after meetings in 2017. One proposal was for the university to rent flats to students in the Empangeni city centre, that can be protected by private security 24 hours a day.

He said the current protest was triggered by a robbery on Thursday where a male student was attacked by criminals inside his cottage. “They forced entry. They shot at him before they robbed him of his laptop and a cellphone. He is currently fighting for his life in Ngwelezane Hospital,” said Mthethwa.

“We don’t want any meeting now. We’ve had several meetings. All we want now is the implementation of a solution. We are tired of being the targets of criminals. The Thursday incident was not the first one, we’ve seen a number of others over the past few years,” said Mthethwa.

UniZulu spokeswoman, Gcina Nhleko-Mdluli said the university management had received with shock and sadness the news of the shooting of a student in an off-campus unaccredited rented accommodation. She said the university had dispatched health personnel to attend to the student and he was in hospital receiving further medical attention.

“The student is in a stable condition and we wish him a speedy recovery. The university management is committed to giving voice to students through meaningful solution-driven engagements. The safety of our students is of paramount importance,” said Nhleko-Mdluli.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said a group of students had blocked R102 with tyres, trees and stones. She said the situation was tense and Public Order Police and Mtunzini members were monitoring the situation.

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TOPICS:  Crime Tertiary Education

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