On January 28, 2022, about 50 student protesters affiliated with a student group known as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Student Command stormed the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Westville campus, where they clashed with security guards.
The students demanded that registration occur in person rather than online and that they be permitted to return to their residences. As the students attempted to enter the campus, students and security guards reportedly threw stones at each other, and a vehicle belonging to UKZN and a guardhouse were reportedly damaged.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence and the destruction of campus property in the course of a student protest. While students and other protesters have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise these rights peacefully and responsibly. Security officials must likewise exercise restraint and ensure any responses to inappropriate behavior by student protesters is proportionate. Violence and the destruction of campus property harm the ability of higher education communities to safely and adequately conduct research, teaching, and other academic activities. State authorities have a responsibility to protect higher education communities, investigate threats, and hold perpetrators responsible. Such incidents undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).