Lectures to resume on DUT campuses

2010-04-07 00:00

INVESTIGATIONS by the ministerial task team looking into the violent protests at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) begin today, while lectures are expected to resume after strike action in recent weeks forced the university to shut its doors early for the Easter break.

The students and their representatives will return to classes as they wait for the investigation team appointed by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande to deliver its findings.

But in Pietermaritzburg, this decision was not reached without incident.

On their first day back in classes yesterday, protesting students damaged the windows to the offices of the midlands campuses’ executive director Professor Reggie Ngcobo and his personal assistant.

The students want Ngcobo dismissed, accusing him of mismanagement and incompetence.

DUT acting vice-chancellor Nqobomzi Gawe yesterday addressed Durban students at the Fred Crookes Sport Centre about the independent task team set up by Nzimande, urging them to “respect this process”.

“The task team will be looking ­into the housing concerns raised by students, in depth. The food committee will be conducting routine quality checks and will address concerns raised relating to the pricing and quality of food on all campuses,” Gawe said.

In Pietermaritzburg, however, Gawe and her team appeared to have their work cut out for them.

While they addressed students during a mass meeting, the students reiterated their concerns. The managers reassured them that all matters they raised will be investigated by the ministerial task team.

Gawe promised that recommendations based on the task team’s findings will be implemented once the investigations have been concluded.

At the Durban campuses, students were back in class yesterday, while all academic activity is expected to resume this morning on the midlands campuses.

Speaking to The Witness, the Student Representative Council president for the midlands campuses, Sipho Mdliva, condemned all damage to property.

“Under no circumstances do we condone it. This is our property and our institution; we condemn it always,” said Mdliva.

Nzimande’s communications head, Ranjeni Munusamy, said the decision to appoint an independent investigation team comes after reports of a breakdown in relationships and the “discontinuation in talks” between students and DUT management.

The team will investigate the nature and reasons of the unrest, as well as make suggestions on short-, medium- and long-term measures that will ensure that a culture of teaching and learning is restored at the institution, Munusamy said.

Nzimande is expected to receive a full report in 20 days.

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