As a result of the death, and subsequent police investigation, the Durban University of Technology has decided to suspend its academic programme, indefinitely.

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has closed its doors following the death of a student who was allegedly shot by private security officers while protesting for free education.

Several universities in KwaZulu-Natal faced vicious waves of protest this week – which coincided with, what was supposed to be, the start of the 2019 academic year. While wanton vandalism and violent rebellion forced the closure of all University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) campuses on Monday – the latest cessation comes in the wake of a student’s death.

According to the Economic Freedom Fighters Students Command (EFFSC), which has been one of the driving forces behind the widespread Student Representative Council (SRC) uprising, the victim of the alleged shooting is 20-year-old Mlungisi Madonsela. It’s alleged that while protesting at Steve Biko Campus earlier in the week, Mandonsela was fatally shot by private security guards who had been hired to quell the dissidence.

Colonel Thembeka Mbele, regional spokesperson for the South African Police Service (SAPS), was mum on the details surrounding the incident, only revealing that Mandonsela was part of a group of protesting students who had allegedly pelted university staff members with stones. Mbele confirmed that an investigation into the killing was currently underway.

As a result of the death, and subsequent police investigation, the Durban University of Technology has decided to suspend its academic programme, indefinitely. In an official statement, the university stated:

“The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has received sad news that one of the students who was involved in protest action earlier this afternoon (05 February 2019), outside DUT’s Steve Biko Campus, has sadly passed away.

Cause of death and details of the incident are not yet clear as the matter is still subject to a preliminary investigation by Police officials. The University is saddened by this unfortunate incident, and due to the sensitivity of this incident the University cannot divulge further details at this stage.

DUT sends its deepest sincere condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. We plead that the family and the University be offered the opportunity to grieve the passing of the student.

As a result of this tragic incident and many other violent altercations, the University Management has decided to close the University until further notice. Further communication will be issued as soon as more details are available on University activity.”

According to the university’s statement, Madonsela passed away while receiving medical attention at City Hospital in Durban.

Cause of the university protests

Madonsela’s death marks the first fatality of the recent outbreak of protest-based violence which has engulfed universities in both KZN and Johannesburg. SRC leaders are demanding that all universities be shut down until their demands are met.

Among these demands are calls for free education, whereby walk-in registrations are endorsed and supported by university management. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has also been blamed for failing to provide students with adequate funding. Inadequate student accommodation also forms one of the protesters’ fundamental qualms.

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