Masked protesters frighten NMU students

Masked protesters disrupt a lecture at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) on Tuesday.
Image: Supplied

Armed with bricks, a group of masked students spent most of Tuesday morning chasing Nelson Mandela University (NMU) students from lectures and setting off fire alarms.

Similar scenes played out on Monday evening.

Shortly after the disruptions to the morning classes on Tuesday, seven students were arrested for damage to infrastructure and contravening a court interdict. Three were released later.

Asked how many students had been involved in the intimidation and how many classes had been affected, NMU spokesperson Zandile Mbabela said accurate figures were not yet available.

However, it has been determined that masked protesters entered at least four classes and students were chased out of the library.

In a video seen by The Herald, a student with a mask covering his face holds up a rock while addressing a group of students in a lecture hall.

“We are here to fetch you, to ask you to join us to shut down the institution until all students have accommodation and are registered,” he said.

Though some students applauded his speech, others said they had been terrified.

The disruptions occurred despite the university reaching an agreement with the Student Representative Council (SRC) on a number of issues relating to registration and funding on Monday afternoon.

Those issues sparked the protest that saw the university shut down on Monday.

A third-year humanities student, who did not want to be named, said the militancy of the protesters had terrified students who just wanted to learn.

He said students had been informed by the university that they could return to lectures on Tuesday because an agreement had been reached with the SRC.

“I arrived at the campus at 7.30am for my first lecture, which was supposed to commence at 7.45am.

“We then received messages that there may be a possible protest,” he said.

At about 9am, four protesters armed with stones disrupted his lecture and threatened students.

“They were very scary, they unnecessarily instil fear through intimidation,” he said.

“My main problem now is do I go to school tomorrow, because they [university management] say it’s OK, but [yesterday] it wasn’t.

“The only people who have kept their promise so far are the protesters.

“They have said they will disrupt until everyone is registered.

“So right now I believe what they say and not the university.

“The university has failed to guarantee my safety — I don’t feel safe.”

The student said the university was not doing enough to address their concerns and students were at risk because there was not enough security on campus.

“They [university] sent an e-mail reporting the arrests as if it’s something to be proud of, but no information on who was arrested and for what.”

A lecturer, who did not want to be named because she is not authorised to speak to the media, said the students who disrupted classes had not been overly aggressive, but the first-year students, in particular, had been afraid as many had only been on campus for a few weeks.

Read more of the story on TimesLIVE




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