DURBAN – Classes have been suspended at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) until further notice, following unrest on the three campuses.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, said the situation had become “untenable” after gunshots were heard on campus (see video below).

Students began protesting against tuition fees on Monday, and at least 16 – some of whom apparently had nothing to do with the protests – were arrested yesterday.

Dr Van Jaarsveld said every effort is being made to engage protesting students and that “we urge students to desist from engaging in illegal and destructive acts, and allow space for consultation to take place”.

Students have been protesting about impending fee hikes, and during the early hours of this morning it was reported that students had torched six vehicles. Meanwhile a policeman is alleged to have raped a student on the Pietermaritzburg campus last night; and this morning police apparently shot at and wounded a young woman.

On Twitter, both the students and the police have been criticised heavily, with one tweeter summing up a critique of both: “You simply do not set alight campus vehicles when protesting! You simply do not shoot at innocent students when protecting!”

Students have taken to Twitter to express resentment at the manner in which the South African media portrays protests at UKZN, compared to the solidarity it shows with protesters at the Universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand. One also said: “Media is quick to cover stories about burnt property, but not about students being raped and shot at with real bullets” and another said “and the sad part about it all is that the media is making it look like its the students who are provoking the police”.

The students allege the police have not just been using tear gas and rubber bullets, but live ammunition too.

UKZN suspended

Update Wednesday 7 September:

Authorities have denied the alleged rape took place.

The law library was burnt.

UKZN has decided to bring forward the September holidays. University is closed from today and will reopen on 20 September 2016.