UKZN students hold up placards during their protest yesterday. Negotiations with management entered their third week. (Chelsea Pieterse, The Witness)
Pietermaritzburg – Striking students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg appear to have adopted the weapon of choice of protesters in Cape Town — faeces.
According to UKZN and police officials, two students were taken into custody at Alexandra Road police station during the early hours of Thursday morning for carrying a large bag full of faeces on to the university’s premises.
A police source said it could not be established if the faeces was of human or animal origin.
“The first question we must ask is where and how the students got it,” the source laughed when asked about the incident.
In a statement released on Thursday, UKZN’s Lesiba Seshoka confirmed that two students were apprehended by the university’s security guards when they were spotted in the Commerce car park in Golf Road.
According to Seshoka, the police were called and an incident report was filed.
However, uMgungundlovu South police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said no case was opened and no arrests were made.
“The two students were taken in for questioning, but they could not be linked to carrying the bag,” Ngobese said.
According to information from a source at the university, it is believed that guards spotted the students and gave chase, but the students then dropped the bag and fled.
The source said the guards eventually caught up to two students loitering on the campus property and apprehended them.
Students’ Representative Council (SRC) member Richard Mhlongo said he had no knowledge of students carrying bags of faeces.
“I have not heard of this and hope it is not possible. However, if it was the case, we condemn such behaviour,” he said.
Although academic activities commenced on all of UKZN’s campuses on Monday, there have still been a number of disruptions to lectures.
On Tuesday, The Witness reported that two students were arrested by police when they used a fire extinguisher to disrupt lectures the day before.
Two female students were treated for inhaling chemicals after that incident.
Seshoka said the university had also received reports that students at the Dunstaple Heights residence on Varsity Drive had been locked in the building by protesting students during the early hours of Thursday morning.
Guards attempting to cut the locks were pelted with stones and bottles.
The public order policing unit (POP) was called for assistance.
Seshoka said there was also another attempt to disrupt tests and lectures on Thursday morning, but “the situation has been brought under control”.
“Every effort is being made to ensure the continuation of academic programmes … Lectures are continuing,” he said.
As negotiations continue between university management and the SRC, Seshoka said the university deplored all forms of racism and discrimination, and “condemns in the strongest possible terms” the offensive comments made on social media in relation to the student protest action experienced on the Pietermaritzburg and Westville campuses earlier this month.
“The university is monitoring these pages and disciplinary action will be taken against those individuals as well as any other staff and students that are found to be responsible for perpetuating the virulent statements,” he said.