Police detain a man during student protests in Johannesburg on Wednesday.  Picture: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES
Police detain a man during student protests in Johannesburg last week. Picture: ALON SKUY/THE TIMES

STUDENTS at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus turned the tables on police‚ firing tear gas at officers during #FeesMustFall2016 protests on Thursday morning.

At other campuses, the University of Cape Town has closed for the rest of the week, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University students have been arrested, and a Stellenbosch University staff member has laid assault charges against students, as protests over fees persist on campuses around SA.

UKZN

According to journalists and photographers on the scene at the Pietermaritzburg campus‚ including TimesLive’s Jackie Clausen‚ students at the UKZN’s residences tossed the tear gas over the fences from their windows.

Protesting students also set fire to gates and blocked entrances at the Malherbe Residence‚ and reportedly threw rocks at police.

The main road into Pietermaritzburg‚ running past the university‚ Alan Paton Avenue‚ was closed at 10am and police were on campus monitoring the situation.

Students were allegedly planning to gather later in the morning.

Police were also keeping an eye out at the Durban campuses where‚ despite claims overnight that students were going to protest against tuition fee increases for 2017‚ there was no sign of protest activity.

Fire at University of Zululand

The University of Zululand has confirmed that shortly before 7pm on Wednesday several of its buildings were set alight.

Spokesman Mack Makhathini said three buildings — all storerooms — were “completely damaged“.

“We were also informed that university electricity substation was also on fire. Upon close inspection with electricians it was discovered that cables were set alight.

“The substation perimeter fence was cut and it was also discovered that the fire started from outside. There is suspicion that somebody set fire on the cables. Security guards were posted to safeguard the substation‚” he said.

Police were investigating.

UCT

UCT said the decision to close the university was made “at a meeting of the senior leadership group” on Wednesday night.

All activities are suspended on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This includes libraries, the 24/7 study area and the Jammie bus service.

UCT said it would provide updates on its website‚ Facebook and Twitter platforms.

The university has been the scene of sometimes violent protests since Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement on Monday about fees increases for 2017.

NMMU

Eight students were arrested in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday and were being held at the Humewood police station.

Police spokeswoman Col Priscilla Naidu said they were being charged with public violence under the National Road Traffic Act. One faced an additional charge of obstructing the police in the execution of their duties.

Students had gathered at the NMMU South Campus since early morning‚ first rounding up more students at the Unitas residence before moving to The Kraal, where they were addressed by university management.

They then marched to the 2nd Avenue Campus, where police fired stun grenades.

One of the group’s speakers‚ Yandisa Ndzoyiya‚ said: “The purpose of a strike is to inconvenience…. We want the outside community to pledge solidarity with us.”

In a Facebook post‚ a group calling itself the NMMU Fees Must Fall Movement explained why it was taking the protest beyond university grounds:

“We are not yet being heard. This is where the rationale of moving outside our university boundaries and taking our struggle to white capital comes in‚ where the government will be sure to take us seriously.

“The one place we have identified as the key strategic centre which is the hub of white monopoly capital is the Board Walk Centre close to NMMU Second Avenue Campus. Again‚ we urge all students and genuine symphathisers‚ especially HIGH SCHOOLS to come show solidarity with us on the ground for this call for free decolonised education.”

Stellenbosch University

A Stellenbosch University (SU) employee in her 60s has opened a case of assault against students who allegedly attacked her while protesting on campus‚ police confirmed on Wednesday.

According to the university‚ the woman was allegedly assaulted after she escorted a student, whom she had assisted with a bursary application, to one of the exits blocked by protesters on Tuesday.

Const Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed that a case of common assault had been opened for investigation.

“The complainant was at her workplace at the Wilcocks Building‚ Ryneveld Street‚ Stellenbosch when students came to the building protesting‚” Rwexana said.

“The complainant was busy on her cellphone when students came to her and grabbed her cellphone and they all started assaulting her.

“No one has been arrested at this stage.”

University spokesman Martin Viljoen said there had been reports of other assaults‚ including attacks on students‚ that would also be investigated.

“SU is currently focusing on ensuring that the academic project can continue with the least disruptions.

“Therefore students who have either prevented other students from participating in the academic offering‚ or have been involved in physical attacks on others‚ have been included in the [court] interdict obtained on Tuesday‚” said Viljoen.

The University’s Crisis Service was providing counselling and assistance to affected people, he said.

Wits

Police on Wednesday used stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesting students.

At least one student, a woman, was treated by paramedics for grenade burns on Wednesday afternoon.

Protests took place on Wednesday even though Wits management decided on Tuesday night to close the university for the rest of the week.

TMG Digital