On March 15, 2022, private security guards fired rubber bullets and paint balls during clashes with students on the Howard College campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), leaving at least one student seriously injured.
A group of students were attempting to gain access to the campus that day, apparently to protest registration-related matters, when private security guards stopped them at the campus gates. UKZN officials reported that students vandalized campus property and intimidated university personnel attempting to access the campus. Clashes broke out after students attempted to force their way into campus and blocked the road leading to campus with burning tires and stones. Security guards fired rubber bullets and paint balls, striking at least one student. That student was hospitalized and had to have an eye removed. The university suspended campus activities temporarily following the incident.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by violence during an on-campus student protest. While campus security has a responsibility to maintain order and safety, they should also exercise restraint and ensure that their actions are proportionate and do not endanger members of the campus community. Likewise, while students have rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise those rights peacefully and responsibly, refraining from physical violence.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).