DUT strike to spread

2014-02-01 00:00

STUDENT organisation Sasco says they are urging students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges to join them in protests if the Durban University of Technology (DUT) student funding issue is not resolved by Monday.

Sasco provincial secretary Koloba Ntshangase claimed yesterday that students at all KZN institutions were facing the same funding challenges.

DUT has been closed indefinitely after students went on a violent strike on Monday.

Several students and a security guard were injured after police and security personnel fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters this week.

Ntshangase said, “If these issues are not resolved by Monday, we will have no choice but to mobilise the entire student population in the province in solidarity for our cause. Expect a full-blown strike if the issues are not resolved.”

The students are protesting over the new National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Ntshangase said they will mobilise students from FET institutions, UKZN and colleges around the province for support.

He claimed DUT vice chancellor Professor Ahmed Bawa refused to negotiate with the student representatives. However, this was rubbished by university spokesperson Alan Khan who said Bawa remained in contact with the student representative body.

“Professor Bawa is today in a meeting with Sasco’s president. They also had a meeting on Thursday. They can have their opinions about the professor, but the institution will remain closed as long as there are violent threats to the safety of all involved. We have addressed the issues that we could address,” said Khan.

“As much as we sympathise with those who can’t afford university fees, their actions became violent, in a few minutes threatening the lives of staff, other students and the security personnel. We can’t promote this kind of behaviour that compromises the safety of everyone concerned,” said Khan.

He said there will be a plan in place to recover the time lost during the protest.

Lulama Popoyi, a second year IT student, said he was saddened by events. “We don’t know how long this will last.

“When it ends, how are we going to recover the time lost? Last year NSFAS paid my fees, but this year I was given a very vague explanation as to why they could not pay my fees any more,” he said.

In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, Bawa said first year students qualifying for admission will be contacted telephonically for registration. Returning students who still need to register are urged to monitor their DUT4life e-mail accounts for updates from the university.

“We will give students advance notice of the dates for the reopening of the residences and for the resumption of the academic calendar,” said Bawa.

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