NWU Mahikeng campus closed, 'under siege'

2015-10-28 08:29
NWU student protesters. Picture taken on October 20. (Saps, Twitter)

NWU student protesters. Picture taken on October 20. (Saps, Twitter)

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Mahikeng - The Mahikeng campus of North West University (NWU) was closed on Wednesday as it was "under siege" by protesting students, the university said.

"The Mafikeng Campus of the NWU currently is under siege by students since October 21 [last Wednesday] and management and staff have been locked out of campus," spokesperson Louis Jacobs said in a statement.

"Considerable damage had been done to facilities on campus which must now be repaired to ensure that examinations can begin on Monday, November 2, 2015."

The decision was taken to close the campus earlier on Wednesday with immediate effect.

"All students will have to vacate the campus by 08:00," Jacobs said.

"Management will now assess the situation and take the necessary steps to prepare for the commencement of examinations."

Students, police clash

On Monday, Jacobs told News24 protesting students and police clashed twice off the Mahikeng campus, part of continuing student protests against rising university fees in certain parts of the country.

"Once again, indications are that it is off campus. We had discussions with the president of the student representative council (SRC) on the Mahikeng campus and he has given us the assurance that there are no incidents of damage of buildings or property on campus," Jacobs said at the time.

He said NWU was confident they could still work towards starting exams on Monday.

According to SABC News, Monday morning's clashes saw police use rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse students.

The students were reportedly throwing stones at cars passing near the university.

University autonomy

Mahikeng campus SRC President Benz Mabengwane told the broadcaster students were calling for the university to adopt the president’s ruling.

"Although the president has made an announcement we must all know that actually there is what we call institutional autonomy," he said.

"Then the council of the university must decide as to whether they align themselves with the decision of the President or not. That is why we have not stopped with our protests, we are still continuing and we will ensure that we never rest until the council has also confirmed that they are going to align with the decision of the president."

On Friday, President Jacob Zuma announced there would be a 0% fee increase at all universities in 2016, following over a week of protests by students at campuses across South Africa.

The protests were sparked at Wits University the week before, after students demonstrated against a proposed 10.5% fee hike by the institution for 2016.

Read more on:    north west university  |  mahikeng  |  education  |  university fees  |  protests

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