Hesa condemns violent student protests
Johannesburg - Student protests that turned violent at the University of Fort Hare on Tuesday should be condemned, even though conditions in residences are serious, Higher Education SA (Hesa) said on Thursday.
"Hesa’s concern is that the actions taken by the department [of higher education] are constantly being undone by students who do not see the larger picture," said chief executive Professor Duma Malaza in a statement.
Hesa - made up of the vice-chancellors of South Africa's 23 state universities - said students at the Alice campus had damaged university property, removed students from classrooms and held staff hostage.
"Whenever there is a grievance the argument all too soon extends to a wish-list of demands that obscure the central issue," said acting chairperson Professor Irene Moutlana.
Student demands included luxuries such as DStv and wireless bandwidth in all residences.
Hesa said students should work together with their vice-chancellor to secure funding to fix existing problems with university infrastructure.
"The acts of violence and intimidation do not further their cause at all. If anything, they discourage and dissuade those parties who are most trying to assist them."
It was ironic, Hesa said, that protesting students had damaged one of the buildings that was being refurbished.
The situation was calm at the university on Thursday, but student groups had indicated that they would return on Friday, said Warrant Officer Bradley Rawlinson.