Zuma must keep his promise to students on fees - UKZN SRC

2016-09-08 17:22
Cape Town students (Tina Hsu, News24)

Cape Town students (Tina Hsu, News24)

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Durban – The Student Representative Council at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday said President Jacob Zuma had made a promise to students, and that he should keep it.

The students also called for the removal Vice Chancellor Albert van Jaarsveld with immediate effect.

"Give us what the president promised. He promised us a no-fee increment. Council must make it happen," said the university’s Howard College SRC president, Bandile Majola.

Majola and other SRC leaders addressed the media at a burnt out cafeteria, about the ongoing student protests at the university, where a law library was torched this week.

"The university must give us a no-fee increase, and the brutalising of students needs to stop. We are paying to be here, we are not doing anyone a favour and we are not clowns.

"We are their clients and we are telling them that we are not happy. We are the university and they are nothing without us."

Majola said Van Jaarsveld should resign.

"When we tell him that we have problems, he says it is nonsense. What kind of vice chancellor tells you that your grievances are nonsense?" asked Majola.

'Stop acting as armchair critics'

Reading a statement on behalf of the entire leadership, central SRC member Samkele Khanyile said the arrest of SRC president Senzo Ngidi was reminiscent of the apartheid era.

He said the SRC was committed to returning to class on September 20, when the university opens its doors following the suspension of the academic programme.

"We anticipate that a council meeting on September 19 will resolve the problems we are currently facing," said Khanyile.

He said universities were spaces for learning to take place, but recently they had resembled "a military zone… The high number of injured students is a cause for concern and we call upon IPID to investigate the matter".

Khanyile condemned the burning of university property.

"We call upon everyone in the country to desist from the inclination or belief that it is the students who are doing this… Former leaders and students should stop acting as armchair critics, by sounding myopic and putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the students.

"They must come down to the campus to be told of the problems, and together find solutions. Going to Facebook and being angry is only clownish."

Rubber bullets fired

He said none of the leaders were condemning the scourge of financial exclusions which left poor black students disenfranchised.

Thirteen students (not 16 as previously reported), aged between 17 and 20, were arrested for public violence, contravening a court order and causing damage to property at the UKZN Westville campus on Monday night.

Police said six vehicles from the campus were burnt and one building set alight.

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

The university's Howard College and Pietermaritzburg campuses also experienced violent protests, with groups of students being dispersed with rubber bullets in some cases.

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

Read more on:    ukzn  |  jacob zuma  |  university fees  |  university protests

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