DUT campus protests as registration closure date looms

Students pushed open a gate and stormed one of the DUT campuses during a protest. Picture: Screen grab of video

Students pushed open a gate and stormed one of the DUT campuses during a protest. Picture: Screen grab of video

Published Feb 22, 2024


Some Durban University of Technology (DUT) students protested on Wednesday at Durban campuses over National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allowances not being paid, accommodation issues and the looming closure of registration this week.

DUT confirmed that there was protest action on the Steve Biko, ML Sultan, Ritson and City campuses.

There are videos circulating on social media of the protest action. In one video, dozens of students, many of them wearing red T-shirts, push open a gate and storm one of the campuses.

In another, students are seen running through campus.

A first-year student, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said she saw around 15 students throwing rocks at windows on Wednesday, resulting in classes being suspended for the day at the City campus.

DUT said the university received reports that the issues were primarily related to some of the students not receiving their NSFAS allowances.

“There has been sporadic protest action but today (Wednesday) was the first day that things turned violent. The protesters also ignited fireworks, which sounded like gunshots and this further traumatised students and staff,” said the university adding that some classes were disrupted, with protesters invading lecture rooms and intimidating staff and students.

EFF Student Command DUT convener Sibusiso Ngubane said burning issues included some returning students not being able to register and students who passed their courses not being able to appeal against the university’s G17 (refusal of admission or readmission) rule.

He said other students who had registered had not been allocated accommodation because they had not received their NSFAS allowances.

“Students have registered but they don't have residences because of NSFAS,” he said.

Ngubane said the students were also concerned that registration is closing this week and that once students iron out their issues, they will not be able to register.

DUT said while it was aware of the NSFAS challenges, there was daily engagement with NSFAS to try to resolve matters.

“The university is also regularly updating the SRC and we urge the protesters to avoid resorting to violence and to remain peaceful. We also apologise to our students and staff who have been affected by the violent protests and intimidation that we witnessed earlier today,” it said.

The university said it would take action against the group responsible for the violence, disruption, intimidation and damage to property.

NSFAS was approached for comment but did not respond by deadline on Wednesday.

The Mercury