UKZN protests: Moratorium on disciplinary action proposed

2016-09-10 12:16
Construction work is underway at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Howard College Law Library. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

Construction work is underway at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Howard College Law Library. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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KwaZulu-Natal - The University of KwaZulu-Natal has proposed to put a moratorium on the disciplinary action against students implicated in the recent violent fee protests which broke out at the institution, its vice chancellor has said.

Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, in a statement, said this was in order to implement a process to deal with the charges through a neutral and independent legal person agreed to by both parties.

"The university will also make sure that those students that are being prosecuted will have the benefit of another independent legal person to preside over proceedings. This is in response to the perception from student leaders about trumped-up charges," he said.

"Whilst the university would never participate in such activities, we have no objection to participating in an open and transparent process that is conducted with integrity."

A group of students arrested during protests were granted bail of R200 each on Wednesday.

The 13 students were charged with a range of crimes, including assault, possession of a dangerous weapon, public violence, convening a gathering without notice, attending an illegal gathering, failing to comply with a police order and interference with police duties.

Six vehicles, building burnt

According to police, six vehicles were burnt and a building was set alight on the UKZN Westville campus on Monday, News24 reported.

A day later, police dispersed a crowd of around 30 students who were chanting struggle songs at the campus. Students reported being tear-gassed and a small fire in a bin had to be extinguished.

Following the torching of the Howard College law library on Tuesday night more violence erupted.

Last week, the Howard College coffee shop was set alight, while the Pietermaritzburg main exam hall went up in flames a day later.

The vice chancellor said university management had been open to negotiation and engagement with the student leadership through the SRC, but students had chosen to engage only with Council.

A delegation of five people will be sent by the SRC and given the opportunity to present to a full Council meeting on September 19, Van Jaarsveld said.

He pointed out that the university was not and had not yet engaged in any process or discussions regarding the 2017 fee increment and was still awaiting guidance from national government.

"We are fully aware that this issue is a statutory matter and that even if Council were to take a decision on the matter, the final approval lies with the minister of higher education. This is because the university statute derives its existence from the higher education act," he said.

He urged students to return to campus on September 20 "ready to attend classes with no further disruptions".

Read more on:    ukzn  |  durban  |  university protests

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