The law library at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard Campus was set alightt.   Picture: FACEBOOK/DONAVEN MANNARU
The law library at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard Campus was set alightt. Picture: FACEBOOK/DONAVEN MANNARU

CLAIMS that a student was raped on campus and that police used live ammunition during student protests at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), are false, says vice-chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.

He said the university had been informed about a student being sexually assaulted‚ allegedly by a police officer and off-campus‚ and that police were investigating.

"The university condemns violence against women in all its forms‚" he said at a media briefing at the university’s Westville campus on Friday.

The university has been rocked by two weeks of violent disruptions and marches at its Westville‚ Pietermaritzburg and Howard College campuses. The continuing violence resulted in the academic programme being suspended until September 20.

Student protests intensified following allegations by a student who said she was raped by police in the early hours of Tuesday morning, during violent protest action at the university’s Pietermaritzburg campus.

Pumelela Nqelenga‚ a lecturer at the school of arts in Pietermaritzburg‚ said staff were holding a silent protest against the violent disruptions outside the campus security office when they were approached by the student. She told them she was raped on campus when police attempted to disperse students.

He said also that claims that police used live ammunition to disperse protesting students were not true.

Third-year law student Bongeka Mntaka was caught in the crossfire as police and security officials dispersed students during violent protests at Howard College on Tuesday. Doctors removed two rubber bullets from her leg.

Van Jaarsveld said the university had been meeting various interested parties concerned about finding an amicable resolution to students’ grievances.

"A proposal is on the table regarding two matters that we were deadlocked on. One was the dropping of charges against students. The university agrees to put a moratorium on the disciplinary action against students that are related to protest action and the violence on campus in order to implement a process for processing of all alleged charges through a neutral and independent legal person agreed to by both parties."

The second matter related to student representation on the executive management committee.

Sammy Mashita‚ a member of the convocation and university council‚ said the vice-chancellor and the president and secretary of the central student representative committee will now meet every month, and "every quarter the executive management committee will meet with a delegation of the SRC (student representative council)."

Van Jaarsveld said the university is not, and has not, participated in any process or discussion regarding the 2017 fee increase. "We still await guidance on the matter from national government."

Millions of rand in damage to the university property occurred during this week’s violent protests.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said she was against the burning and destruction of university property. She told the South African Women Lawyers Association meeting in Durban on Friday morning that while she was aware that it was done as a reaction to poverty‚ the students were hurting themselves.

The MEC for community safety‚ Mxolisi Kaunda‚ called on the university to expel students who torched university property.

On Monday night‚ the senate building at Westville campus and vehicles parked outside the Risk Management Services office were torched‚ and the law library at Howard College was set alight on Tuesday. In Pietermaritzburg, furniture was burnt.

TMG Digital