9 DUT students arrested after trying to set guard alight – Police

Group had embarked on the protest action outside the main Steve Biko campus in the early hours of the morning

9 DUT students arrested after trying to set guard alight - Police

18 September 2019

Nine students at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) have been arrested after trying to set a security guard on fire and burning property on Wednesday, police have said.

A group of students embarked on the protest action outside the main Steve Biko campus in the early hours of the morning.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said a maintenance room and two security guard houses had been set alight.

"The students attacked a 27-year-old security guard who works at the tertiary institution. They assaulted him, poured petrol on him and attempted to set him alight. He was rescued by his colleagues who witnessed the attack. He sustained severe injuries and was conveyed to hospital for medical attention."

Naicker said police were alerted of the attack and managed to apprehend nine students, aged between 20 and 30.

"They will be charged for attempted murder, malicious damage to property and public violence. They will appear in the Durban Magistrate's Court soon. The situation is under control and police officers from Berea SAPS, as well as the Public Order Police Unit, are at the scene to monitor the situation."

Recently-appointed provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula condemned the violence.

"As [police], we will not hesitate to arrest those who are found to have contravened the law. We reiterate that no grievance can ever justify students breaking the law and endangering the lives of other citizens. We call on students to raise their grievances within the confines of the law," he said.

DUT spokesperson Alan Khan condemned the incident saying actions by the group of students resulted in "destruction of property and the threats and intimidation to students and staff at some of our campuses in Durban this morning".

"The university strongly condemns this criminal behaviour, which included the use of petrol bombs, that has sadly resulted in the destruction of much needed university infrastructure. The university is aware that the police have arrested several protesters following the violence and destruction this morning."

Khan said they were aware of reports that protesters tried to set one of their security officers alight.

"We thank the police and the security team for responding in a manner that saved the security guard from this vicious attack. DUT officials are currently conducting an assessment of the full extent of the damage to property."

He further advised the SRC and the protesting students to "act within the confines of the law and to please respect the rights of students who want to study and to not intimidate the members of staff, who want to teach and keep the campuses and residences operational".

"The university remains committed to securing a conducive and safe environment for teaching and learning, particularly during this critical phase of our academic programme."

Student Representative Council Thamsanqa Memela did not respond to request for comment.

The protest action comes after 18-year-old student Sandile Ndlovu was brutally stabbed in the head while studying in a lecture room last week.

Earlier this year, student Mlungisi Mandonsela was shot and killed, allegedly by a security guard contracted to the university.