UKZN protests may soon be over

2011-04-05 00:00

THE end may be in sight for the protests that have rocked the Westville campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) since last week. University management and the Student Representative Council (SRC) entered into negotiations on Sunday in an attempt to end the strike.

University spokesperson Nomonde Mbadi said following a lengthy discussion the SRCs agreed to inform the student membership of the deliberations.

The protests, organised by the SRC, centred around a lack of financial aid for students. SRC president Bongumenzi Mhlango estimated 700 students would have to leave the university due to unpaid fees which prevented them from registering.

UKZN management and students managed to reach agreement on some issues, says Mhlango. These included the maintenance of residences and campus security. The university also agreed to allow students who had not paid fees under a certain amount to register, and to allow a longer time period for students to pay off their debts, says Mhlango.

However, Mhlango says that there are still some areas where their demands were not met. He says students want financial aid to be made available to another 300 to 400 students, and want charges dropped for many of the students who were arrested during last week’s protests.

The university had an interdict granted last month preventing any mass action on its campuses, and the police services were called on to implement the interdict. A total of 150 protesters were arrested during the week-long protests.

The strikes saw damage to UKZN property and assaults on fellow students and staff, as well as disruption of classes, with the university closing all campuses on Friday.

Negotiations will continue once both delegations have reported back to those they represent.

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