Onthatile Kgoadigoadi & Magnificent Mndebele
Peaceful students at DFC who began to mobilize other students who were in classes, faced a dead end when the Fidelity Security (bouncers) physically stopped them from doing so. It was a hard job, if not impossible for the bouncers to disperse the students. The bouncers then took a chemical resort, to pepper spray the students. The students perceived these deeds as provocative, which caused anger that led to a war of stones when students threw stones at the bouncers.
When the exchange of stones escalated, the bouncers reacted to the students, which made the whole scene to be dramatic as the give-and-give war magnified.
During the exchange of stones between the bouncers and students, there were more than two cars that were damaged, whose owners couldn’t be found for interviews amidst the war.
A man called Ngobane, who is said to be a HOD of Protection Services at DFC, arrived in a scene of turmoil and devastation. He praised the bouncers, saying “You (bouncers) are doing a good job because if you were not there, they (students) would have damaged the infrastructure”.
It was a war which was exhausting and seemed to be a war that would be prolonged for hours until police came and intervened to calm the tension which erupted between the students and the bouncers.
On the arrival of the police, they attempted to take statements of what happened, but that also caused a war of words between the students’ leaders and the bouncers as they tried to give testimonies of the scene. The police then decided to stop the tension in a conversational way, by urging student leaders to beseech their cadres to ease anger.
A group of students who were gathered was spotted again by police, they then fired teargas to disperse the crowd, which led to one student among the group inhaling the smoke of the teargas that was thrown at a close range.
Xolani Luhleko Zikalala is the student who inhaled the teargas smoke. He has asthma, and he could neither breathe nor walk after inhaling the smoke. He was coughing when one paramedic surveyed his condition, he struggled to speak as choking interrupted his speech.
As much as Ngobane showed gratitude to the work of the bouncers, students’ discontent about the presence of the bouncers also heightened.
One student activist at DFC, whom we will name, The-Activist, said: “The bouncers are generally inhuman, they treat human beings like dogs, …students are being terrorized at night.”
The bouncers are people who rarely come to address the media, but Master, who is an operational manager of the bouncers at DFC agreed to tell their side of the story.
He said the key job of the bouncers is to protect the University’s infrastructure from being damaged, not to attack students.
Another bouncer, whom we cannot name as he is not authorized to talk to the media, stated that some of the students who are protesting are people whom they get along with. He reinforced that they are not violent and they would not harm peaceful students.
Today at the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park Campus (APK), journalists were said to have been beaten and pepper sprayed by the bouncers who were operating at APK. And some of the students were dragged by the bouncers at APK.
Wednesday evening, when students began a march at DFC, which was also covered by the media, journalists were attacked again by the bouncers.
Over the past three days since the UJ FeesMustFall protest began, the media was prohibited from filming the protests. And this has raised concerns as to why the media was denied to film what was happening on the ground.
Students who attend lectures’ classes are continuously being endangered as the protesting students fight for their other fellows to join them in their protest. Despite the uncertainties caused by the recurring protests at UJ, the University has been consistently sending emails and SMSs to students that classes will resume as normal.
Over the past days, numerous innocent students have raised concerns of being unfairly treated and attacked by the bouncers, and the University had been adamant to take the students’ concerns. And now that the bouncers have attacked journalists, the University of Johannesburg wants to hold a press brief about the journalists who were attacked a few hours ago.