UKZN Westville campus closed after violent protest

2015-09-15 11:02
UKZN Westville campus.

UKZN Westville campus. (Avir, Twitter)

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Durban - The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Westville has been closed following the outbreak of violent protests there on Sunday night.

Protesting students went on a rampage burning cars, damaging property and looting lecture rooms.

Those who arrived on Monday for lectures were sent away.

The students were protesting about issues related to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), student accommodation and the university’s intended closing of the Registration Appeals Committee (RAC) process.

Provincial South African Student Congress (Sasco) secretary Phinda Mofokeng accused UKZN of meddling in the allocation of funds by the scheme.

“NSFAS is an independent body. Their policy is clear that you must pass your registered modules with 50% for them to continue funding your studies. UKZN is coming up with this top-up illegal process of 70%, but the agreement is between the students and NSFAS,” said Mofokeng.

According to one of the student representative council (SRC) members, who did not want to be named, UKZN has introduced a “robot system”.

“At the beginning you will be coded green. That means a good academic standing. Once you get less than 70%, it turns orange. Once you get less than 50%, it turns red,” said the SRC member.

The member said the system was “unfair because some courses were more challenging than others”.

Mofokeng said the institution wanted to close RAC, which provided amnesty to students who owed money, allowing them to register for the next semester.

“Even if you owe the university one cent, the university will show you the middle finger. The university wants to exclude poor students. Is it a crime to be poor?” asked Mofokeng.

He said the university had promised to complete the building of a student residence by last year, which has not been done.

“The majority of our students are housed in Point [Durban] where there is a lot of drug dealing and crime. Most of them have fallen prey to muggings,” said Mofokeng.

He condemned the violence.

The university said it is committed to engaging with students to understand the causes of the unrest and said students had not brought the issues to them yet.

Police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said police are monitoring the situation.

“Two students have been arrested for public violence. They were stoning police vehicle,” said Zwane.

Read more on:    ukzn  |  durban  |  education  |  protests

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