Lectures at UKZN’s PMB campus suspended

2016-08-16 10:20
Members of the SAP keep an eye out for any protests under the clock tower of Old Main Building at UKZN  on Monday.

Members of the SAP keep an eye out for any protests under the clock tower of Old Main Building at UKZN on Monday. (Ian Carbutt)

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Lectures were suspended at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus amid student unrest Monday.

The shutdown comes against the backdrop of a tightening of security at the University of Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand amid fears of another wave of “Fees Must Fall” protests.

The situation remains tense at tertiary institutions after Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande postponed the eagerly awaited announcement on the 2017 tertiary fee increment on Friday at the eleventh hour.

The increment was expected to be a six percent capping of fee increases across all tertiary institutions. When the announcement was postponed, student bodies started mobilising support.

The UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus strike started on Thursday night.

By Sunday night students had gathered again and had started protesting.

While the students were complaining mostly about the students’ funding scheme, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, an SRC member told The Witness the funding scheme would not be an issue if tertiary education were free.

The student leader, who asked not to be named as he fears victimisation, said they were opposed to any fee increments because the fight for free education continues.

Carrying sticks and stones, students had started gathering at the campus in the early hours and before the lectures could commence, they had run riot already. Students who arrived for early lectures, seemingly unaware of the protest action, were seen being sent away while police and security personnel kept a watch at the institution.

The university’s spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the academic programme were expected to resume on Wednesday.

“The campus was not fully accessible to university staff and students and classes were disrupted. The university regrets the inconvenience caused and apologises to all students and parents whose commitments have been interrupted by the unfortunate events.

“The University Council has not deliberated on issues relating to fee increments as it awaits a directive from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). DHET on the other hand constituted a multi-stakeholder forum to discuss the issue. No decision on fee increments has been made.

“We urge all students to adhere to the university rules, regulations and applicable protocols in dealing with grievances, complaints and matters of concern. Students who engage in illegal activities or act outside of the set processes and procedures for raising grievances will not be tolerated,” he said.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said no arrests had been made and police would continue to monitor the protest.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest action

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