17 April 2018

South Africa: Police Fire Rubber Bullets At Pietermaritzburg Students

Offices set alight, tyres slashed, eight students injured according to SRC

Police used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse students from Msunduzi Tvet College in Pietermaritzburg who marched to the administrative offices on Tuesday. Two students were taken to hospital. They were shot with rubber bullets.

Eight students were injured said SRC president Cleo Ntombela. Students have been protesting since last week, demanding their accommodation fees from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

On Tuesday students marched to the central office. They forced themselves into the administrative office where a fire was set. Workers locked themselves in the offices. The tyres of the principal's car were damaged.

One student said they wanted to "send a strong signal" to university management which had been "ignoring" the students.

"Since last week there has been no solution from the management. They locked themselves inside their offices. They don't come out. What are we supposed to do? "

Ntombela said students would force their way into the boarding house from which they have been evicted. "Students have no place to stay. They are carrying their blankets and their luggage. They have nowhere to go."

"We were not armed," said Nomfundo Shezi. "They came with their big guns and started shooting. What we want is a solution. Many of us are from a poor background. We are not doing this for entertainment. We need accommodation. I'm from Nquthu [over 200km away]. I cannot sleep under the trees. They must tell us what we should do," said Shezi.

Police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala said no incident of shooting had been reported to the police.

The principal, Ntombi Ntshangase, could not be reached for comment.

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