Stones, grenades fly on cam­pus

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

in front of its en­trance and smash­ing its glass doors and large win­dows.

Po­lice pur­sued and ar­rested the 27.

They also fired stun grenades at small crowds of stu­dents chant­ing slo­gans and gath­er­ing to watch the tense stand- off un­fold.

One stu­dent, Zimkita Songqengqe, said the protest be­gan at 7.30am yes­ter­day.

“We de­cided to protest again be­cause we are un­able to pay our fees. We don’t have fi­nan­cial aid and some of us don’t even have par­ents,” she said.

Philiswa Dingiswayo, an­other stu­dent, said her farm­worker par­ents earned R75 a day and could not af­ford to pay her fees.

“I don’t un­der­stand why the po­lice are shoot­ing us and go­ing into our res­i­dences.

“Some in­no­cent stu­dents have been ar­rested to­day. One guy was just walk­ing. He didn’t do any­thing but he was ar­rested.”

Some stu­dents re­sponded ag­gres­sively to­wards the po­lice and jour­nal­ists, throw­ing stones and swear­ing at them.

A tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ist was ha­rassed and his video cam­era taken.

“One stu­dent had a knife and the oth­ers had stones. They took my cam­era and ran away with it,” he said.

When the jour­nal­ist man­aged to get his cam­era back from cam­pus se­cu­rity he found his mem­ory cards had been re­moved, ap­par­ently to en­sure that footage of the morn­ing’s van­dal­ism could not be used to iden­tify stu­dents.

Another jour­nal­ist said: “Stu­dents wouldn’t let me­dia cover their protest this morn­ing. When I lifted my phone or cam­era they went berserk.”

Some stu­dents also tried to pre­vent Week­end Ar­gus from in­ter­view­ing other stu­dents. One pro­tester stoned the jour­nal­ist and an­other, af­ter be­ing ar­rested, an­grily told the jour­nal­ist to “f**k off ”.

Stu­dents said that those or­gan­is­ing the protests were also threat­en­ing them in their rooms, forc­ing them to join in.

“At 6am they knock on your doors to join the protest. If you don’t join they flood our rooms so that we have to get out. They also use a fire ex­tin­guisher to get us out of our rooms,” said one stu­dent.

CPUT vice-chan­cel­lor Prins Nevhutalu an­nounced on the uni­ver­sity’s web­site yes­ter­day that all ac­tiv­i­ties had been “sus­pended”.

CPUT spokes­woman Lau­ren Kans­ley said the debt of “over 5 000 stu­dents was writ­ten off, to­talling R111 mil­lion” this week.

“This is of stu­dents who ap­plied for fi­nan­cial aid for 2012, 2013 and 2014, but didn’t re­ceive help.”

She said protest­ing stu­dents had also set alight CPUT Bel­lville se­cu­rity hub yes­ter­day.

“We are mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion closely. The ma­jor­ity of stu­dents want to con­tinue with ex­ams, which have been called off for now.”

Mean­while, the CPUT branch of the Na­tional Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Union yes­ter­day con­demned “all forms of vi­o­lence on CPUT cam­puses”.

Gen­eral sec­re­tary Grant Ab­bott said a “small fac­tion of stu­dents seem in­tent on in­cit­ing vi­o­lence and con­fronta­tion in­stead of work­ing to­gether with uni­ver­sity au­thor­i­ties and unions”.

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