Student protests close DUT campuses

2017-02-22 21:09
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Pietermaritzburg - Durban University of Technology (DUT) students at Indumiso campus in Imbali started protesting on Wednesday, GroundUp reported.

Students barricaded FJ Sithole Road with burning tyres and threw stones at police. Police used teargas to disperse the students.

This followed a meeting between the Student Representative Council and management about problems with funding by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), residences, food prices, and the registration process.

The SRC secretary Yoliswa Manele said deserving students had not been granted NSFAS funding, despite having followed the application process.

DUT told them that NSFAS and the Department of Higher Education and Training had not committed itself to funding them.

“We have more than 300 students who have applied for funding and their status says: ‘waiting for availability of funds’.”

Manele said only tuition fees had been unblocked; not accommodation, transport, living and other costs. Students said there was limited accommodation on Indumiso campus and some students had to rent in Imbali township.

The SRC raised concerns about food prices on campus. Student Saneliwe Hlongwa said a NSFAS-funded student got R700 for a month, which was not enough to cover basic items.

“We want the management to consider minimising prices for basic items such as bread, milk and sanitary towels.

“When you are hungry you cannot focus, and that is why we have embarked on the strike today. They must listen to us. If they don’t listen, we will continue until our voices are heard.”

DUT spokesperson Alan Khan told News24 that they had received no letter of demands from students. 

“We don’t know what the protest is about,” Khan said.

In a letter to campus on Wednesday, acting vice-chancellor Thandi Gwele described the protest as violent.  In order to ensure the safety of staff and students, the academic programme at the Indumiso and Riverside campuses in Pietermaritzburg had been suspended for the rest of the week. The Durban campuses were not affected.

Students in Pietermaritzburg were told to vacate residences in the Midlands Centre within 24 hours. Only registered DUT students would be allowed back into residences on Sunday from 14:00.

Pietermaritzburg police control room officer Saneth Moloi said police are not aware of any violence on the campus. No buildings had been damaged and no tyres burnt, Moloi said. 

Read more on:    dut  |  pietermaritzburg  |  university protests  |  education  |  protests

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