Chaos at UKZN forces early recess

2016-09-14 06:00
PHOTO: sabelo nsele Strong police presence at UKZN last week when the protests reached new heights.

PHOTO: sabelo nsele Strong police presence at UKZN last week when the protests reached new heights.

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PROTESTING students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal caused chaos over the past weeks with constant standoffs with police in and around the campus in Scottsville.

Members of the public, including children, have been innocent victims of mass marches, rubber bullets, tear gas and roads blocked off preventing people from getting to their homes. Protesters also burnt down a hall at the Pietermaritzburg campus where students write their exams. At Howard College the law library was also burnt down and priceless thesis by past law students were lost forever.

The university have since closed the campuses in order to address the issues that the students are protesting over, the most important of which is the fees.

Students living in residence at UKZN were also asked to peacefully evacuate the buildings for the recess period.

Lives have been put at risk, innocent students suffering, and most importantly, the academic year had been grounding to a halt as lectures have been erratic.

UKZN have not commented on whether the protests will affect final-year students obtaining their degrees and result in many students falling behind in their academic calendar.

In a media briefing about the protests at Westville campus last Friday, university management said that they have been open to negotiation and engagement with the student leadership in the form of the SRC, however, students have chosen to engage only with council.

“I would like to apologise to all members of staff and students who are committed to the successful completion of the academic programme for the inconvenience caused. We appreciate your commitment and commend you for your patience during this volatile time.

“The university has been meeting with various interested parties who have shown concern in finding an amicable solution to the current situation,” said UKZN vice-chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.

Students have claimed on the UKZN Facebook page that they will not stop fighting for the cause until the university management heeds to their pleas.

Van Jaarsveld said UKZN agrees to put a moratorium on the disciplinary action against students who are related to protest actions and the violence on campus.

They will take an alternate route of engaging with a neutral and independent legal person agreed to by both parties.

“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. As per our university policies, UKZN does not pay bail for students arrested during violent protest action,” he said.

A delegation of five people will present to a full council meeting on 19 September.

“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.

“The university will remain on recess and preparations are under way for very stringent measures of access control, among others, to exclude any unwelcome elements within the precincts of the university campuses.

“The university is not and has not engaged in any process or discussions regarding the 2017 fee increment as yet.

“We still await guidance on the matter from national government. We therefore urge students to return to UKZN on 20 September ready to attend classes with no further disruptions,” said Van Jaarsveld.

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