Security beefed up at Elsenburg college after violent clashes

2015-09-01 20:11
(Alexander Joe, AFP)

(Alexander Joe, AFP) ((Alexander Joe, AFP))

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Cape Town - Security has been beefed up at the Elsenburg Agricultural Institute in Stellenbosch after days of disruptions by students.

The Western Cape Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday it had also since instituted a process to secure an interdict to ensure that classes could continue as normal.

The college falls under the department, with its degree courses underwritten by the University of Stellenbosch.

Its spokesperson Petro van Rhyn said a "small number of students" were not committed to finding solutions.

Students have been protesting over the language policy at the institution.

"The college recognises that despite the progress made towards developing an inclusive approach to learning, there remains a small group of students who have no desire to work with us toward finding solutions," said Van Rhyn.

"To ensure that order is maintained and classes can continue, we have arranged additional security at the institution, as well as instituted a process to secure an interdict to protect the rights of students and lecturers to proceed with normal class activity without interruption."

This was after students clashed on the campus during a protest on Tuesday against the college's language policy.

Third-year student and EFF member Liphelo Mpumlwana said one of the lecturers at the college slapped her on Tuesday morning while she, a group of black students and some Economic Freedom Fighters protested outside an exam hall where some students had been waiting to enter.

"There were two lecturers who were there. The person who instigated the fight was a lecturer," she said.

"I got slapped by that lecturer. I wasn't even communicating with him. I was singing with my comrades [then] people started fighting. It was a fight between black students and white students."

Fights

A number of people wearing red T-shirts were seen on eNCA whipping others with sjamboks during a fight which broke out at the entrance of the hall. 

Mpumlwana said although some of the EFF members on campus were not students, they did not physically attack anyone.

"It was students against students."

Van Rhyn said Public Order Police were called to monitor the situation on Tuesday. They had also been called on Monday to reopen classrooms after EFF protesters padlocked the doors.

She confirmed that one student had to get medical care after Tuesday's clash.

There has been an ongoing dispute over a policy about the language of instruction at the institution.

The college's Student Representative Council (SRC) said they felt that non-white, non-Afrikaans speaking students were still being victimised.

Classes were disrupted two weeks ago by students unhappy with the implementation of the institution's dual English/Afrikaans language policy.

Van Rhyn said the college's council had instituted a task team to discuss a new language policy in response to the complaints. It has already held several meetings with the SRC, the House Committee and students, she said.

Independent mediators have been appointed to facilitate the transformation process, as well as diversity management training and conflict resolution involving students, lecturers and administrative staff.

But Van Rhyn said some students were not playing their part in the process by refusing to get involved.

"They have refused to be part of the mediation process. This is their right. However, we will not allow any student to disrupt the continuance of education at the institution," he said.

Read more on:    eff  |  cape town  |  education

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