23 June 2022
Press release statement: For immediate release
Sent by: Bheki Hlophe, Publications and Media Relations Officer
MUT suspends all lectures and examinations scheduled for today amid disruptions
Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) suspended all lectures and examinations scheduled for today due to violent student protest, which endangered the lives of staff and led to the destruction of university property. The Executive Management Committee (EMC) of MUT took the decision to cancel activities on campus to protect staff, students, and university property amid this volatile situation.
The EMC has not received communication from the Student Representative Council (SRC) with demands or anything that could explain the reasons behind this morning’s destructions.
While the University is still trying to piece together what happened, this morning’s incident allegedly unfolded as follows:
1. A group of about 30 students, some with their faces covered, started pelting security personnel at the Main entrance with stones.
2. Security personnel who were in the guardroom when the incident started could not go out in fear of being struck by the stones.
3. The protesting group proceeded to burn the guardhouse with security personnel inside.
4. Security personnel managed to escape the guardhouse and left through the main entrance.
5. The protesting group proceeded to burn two university vehicles and caused destruction to several other university assets.
6. The protesting group was carrying 5 litres of sanitizer, which they use to start the fire.
7. So far, the list of damaged assets includes:
a. The windows at the Academic Affairs Offices (known as ‘Steps’) have been broken,
b. Examination Office was pelleted by stones,
c. Senate Chambers was pelleted by stones,
d. Two university cars burnt to ashes,
e. Refrigerators were burnt, and
f. Mobile toilets, which the university provided considering the water shortages, were also burnt.
The University has opened a case with the South African Police Service in Umlazi Township and expects the perpetrators to be brought to the book. Bringing the perpetrators of such illegal acts to the book does not mean that MUT is trying to stifle protest within the University. Instead, the University supports the constitutional right to protest when such right is exercised in within the confines of the law and in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of others. It is unfortunate that this morning’s incident infringed on the rights of those students who were scheduled to write their examinations, threatened the lives of security personnel, damaged university property and infringed on the freedom of movement.
We sympathise with all those affected and encourage those who embark on protest to also give dialogue and engagement a chance. Universities are spaces where ideas are debated, and issues are resolved through dialogue. Violence and acts of criminality have no place at a university. MUT is always opened to engage with the SRC on any student issues as part of its commitment to the wellbeing of its students.