R2K worried about trend of security officials provoking protesting students

Some students claim they were targeted by officials when they were not part of the protest.

A vandalised building at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Right to Know Campaign says it's noticed a worrying trend where security officials appear to provoke protesting students and use excessive force for no reason.

The organisation has condemned allegations of excessive force by police and security officials at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Officials used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse students who were protesting over fees this week.

Videos and pictures have circulated showing excessive force used against demonstrators.

Some students claim they were targeted by officials when they were not part of the protest.

Alex Hotz of the Right to Know Campaign says the behaviour of security officials needs to be addressed.

"Supposedly students have set fire to building but they have been no proof that the students have done that. And it almost seems that there's an incentive for private security to do these things as well so that the university can continue to employ them."


Meanwhile, Students Representative Council (SRC) leaders from the various campuses at the university say they believe one of the only way to resolve the problems faced by the institution is if the executive management is removed, including the current vice-chancellor.

Classes at UKZN have been suspended until later this month. This comes as an inquiry into the feasibility of free higher education is underway.

The UKZN SRC's Samkele Khanyile says they have penned their grievances as far back as March this year.

"All previously agreed upon issues are not implemented by management and the crisis that the university finds itself in is a direct result of a dysfunctional executive."

The 23 students arrested on charges of malicious damage to property and contravening a court order have been released on bail.

The UKZN SRC leaders say they are not convinced students are behind the torching of university property and say construction cartels and business are more likely to benefit from the rebuilding of facilities at the campuses.

Multi party negotiations are expected to continue in an attempt to resolve the impasse before classes resume later this month.


The South African Democratic Students Movement (Sedesmo) has called on the University of KwaZulu-Natal not to kick out students who have been affected by the recent protests.

Sadesmo has also accused the private security on campus of being brutal towards students insisting the company was acting on instruction from university management.

Sadesmo's Sbongakonke Mhlongo says UKZN management has deliberately disengaged from negotiations.

"We therefore call upon the university to not chase away students from their residences and university facilities."

Mhlongo says there needs to be an investigation into who owns the private security company that has acted so brutally toward students

"You'll be surprised that some of the people that are behind these private companies are the people that are well-respected in this country.

"Some of them are occupying senior positions, some of them are in leadership in certain political parties."

The Inkatha Freedom Party student wing insists free education is feasible immediately and that the current government is lacking the political will to ensure that this is achieved.