KwaZulu-Natal Acting Premier Sihle Zikalala is convening a task team of MEC’s to initiate talks in an attempt to resolve the current crisis at tertiary institutions in the province.

Zikalala says violence will achieve nothing.

“It is shocking that when students embark on a demonstration, they then embark on violent protest. If we burn cars and we burn the buildings that undermines even the genuine grievances that we want to put forward. We want to call on police to be decisive on those who commit any acts of criminality. There is nothing that will be solved through arrogance. As the government of KZN, we are also exploring ways of convening an urgent meeting to look on all of these issues and try to have a solution.”

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has been closed until further notice after a 20-year-old student died after being shot during student protests at the institution’s Steve Biko campus. It is alleged that security officers opened fire on students after a scuffle broke out between students who wanted to enter a building and campus protection services.

The university’s Spokesperson Alan Khan says there will be an investigation to determine why live ammunition was used.

“Sadly, we can confirm that there was a tragic incident just outside of the Steve Biko Campus this afternoon (Tuesday) which resulted in the loss of life of one of our students. Our dean of students is busy trying to contact the deceased’s family to advise the next of kin and it’s now a matter of a police investigation as to what happened. We are also aware of allegations and an investigation will also take place with our security team. The management team is aware and will be dealing with the matter with the seriousness that it deserves. Management at the university has taken the decision to close the university until further notice.”

KwaZulu Natal Police Spokesperson Thembeka Mbele says four suspects have been arrested.

“For now they are busy with investigations so we cannot confirm as to who shot. But I can confirm that there was an attack by these students to the security people that are working there. A security guard was injured and another lady who is an admin assistant was injured and four suspects have been arrested.”

Accommodation problems

A group of students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has called on the university to put a hold on the academic year until the issue of accommodation is resolved.

Chairperson of CPUT’s Student Representative Council, Tumiso Mfisa, says hundreds of students don’t have accommodation for this year. He says there about 350 students are currently sleeping in the student centre.

“For the past three weeks over 350 students that includes returning students and also first year students who do not have a place to stay. For us it is very upsetting and frustrating, because we receive calls in the morning, at 4am , that say, hey Chairperson, I am coming to campus I am from Durban, I’m from Limpopo, I’m from Eastern Cape and I will just tell them there is no accommodation available. You must just go and sleep with us by student centre whereas we have been watching them for the past three weeks.”

CPUT’s spokesperson, Lauren Kansley, says the academic year will continue as scheduled.

“Those students who are demanding accommodation are late applicants. So any person who has applied for a place at CPUT and at the same time applied for accommodation, most of those people have been accommodated. So these are late applicants that are trying to jump the queue for accommodation; and naturally we operate a fair system here and we must apply that.”