UKZN management condemns arson

Pietermaritzburg – The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) says acts of arson at the Pietermaritzburg campus are "appalling".

"Executive management condemns in the strongest possible terms the malicious damage to property that has occurred on its campuses. The recent acts of arson are appalling," university spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said. 

Private security guards contracted to UKZN raided the William O'Brien residence in Pietermaritzburg on Monday.

This was after a fire, which razed a common room and entry hall, broke out at the residence early in the morning. 

The residence, on the university's main campus in the provincial capital, has been a flashpoint for protests against fee increases.

Seshoka said excrement had been smeared on the commerce building.

He added that there were student demonstrations on the library lawns and that acts of malicious damage to property, intimidation against both students and academics had been noted. 

Fee decision in October

"A test and a lecture on the Pietermaritzburg campus had to be postponed. The decision was made in the best interests of the majority of the students."

According to Seshoka, security checks were conducted at residences in Pietermaritzburg and an unidentified male was found in possession of an illicit substance. 

"He was arrested and subsequently removed from the campus. Disciplinary action will be taken against another student found in possession of drug paraphernalia. University management sincerely regrets the inconvenience caused to all parties."

Seshoka said university management has been open to constructive engagement with the student leadership "in an effort to address their grievances". 

"In this respect there have been a number of engagements with students. With regards to concerns relating to fee increments, no decision on fees for 2017 has been made and council will only finalise this in October 2016."

Seshoka added: "It is imperative that we continue with the academic programme, as any further loss of time will start to impact on our ability to successfully complete the academic year."

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