Rubber bullets fired at rioting students

Police fired rubber bullets at rioting students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal as heated protests over financial aid and accommodation continued yesterday.

Lectures at the Howard College campus were suspended as students demonstrated for a second day, setting a tyre alight near the science block, breaking windows and disrupting lectures.

On Monday, the students damaged property, disrupted lectures and intimidated other students after blocking the main entrance to the campus.

The students, led by the SA Students’ Congress, are demanding more financial aid packages from the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme for first-year students, more accommodation facilities, and better governance on campus.

Armed police officers opened fire, sending protesting students running for cover into several buildings near the Dennis Shepstone building. None of the students was injured.

After negotiating with students, officers ordered them to move to the parking lot in front of Howard College building, where the university allowed the protest to continue under police supervision.

On Monday, five students, four of them Students’ Representative Council members, had been arrested and charged with public violence.

The council general secretary, Thinta Cibane, was among them.

“I had just been walking to the SRC car to get a form to apply for a mass demonstration when police asked me to accompany them to the university’s risk management ser-vices office. They were smiling at me,” Cibane said.

“At the office they arrested me and charged me with inciting public violence and the SRC with vandalism.”

The four students were released on bail about 11.30pm after the university’s manage-ment intervened.

University spokeswoman Nomonde Mbadi said the students had embarked on an illegal protest and that UKZN had called in the police to control the situation.

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