No protests at UKZN's Durban campuses

2016-09-20 16:38
Construction work is underway at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Howard College Law Library. (File, Kaveel Singh, News24)

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

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WATCH: UKZN students march through campus mobilising support

2016-09-20 11:15

Students at institutions around South Africa demonstrated on Tuesday morning.WATCH

Durban – In contrast to the rest of the country, students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Howard and Westville campuses in Durban did not embark on any #FeesMustFall protests on Tuesday morning.

News24 visited both campuses and found students and staff going about their normal day-to-day activities.

However, security at both campuses was increased dramatically, with eight to 10 guards at the main gates of both campuses.

The increased security measures came after veiled threats of protests were posted on social media.

This prompted university spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka to send out an email to students around midday, saying it was "aware of the call for students to protest today, in support of a 0% fee increase".

"While we respect the constitutional right of students to protest, we expect that the protest action will be peaceful and not hinder the academic programme and students' right to a conducive learning environment," Seshoka said.

Campuses being monitored

The university has a High Court interdict in place protecting it against unlawful protests, disruptive gatherings, demonstrations, mass action, intimidation, or any violent act to persons or property at the entrance and premises of university campuses.

Seshoka added: "Currently, the academic programme is proceeding, with no reports of disruptions on the Westville, Howard, Edgewood, and Medical School campuses. The Pietermaritzburg campus experienced some protest action this morning, with disruption caused at lecture venues. The protestors have now been dispersed."

University risk management services and public order policing awere continuing to monitor all campuses, he added.

Seshoka said "every effort" was being made to ensure that the academic programme proceeded as scheduled.

Speaking to News24, Howard College final-year law student Lizwi Myeni said students were not protesting, because they had already done so.

"Basically, we have already lost like two weeks of school. I think the students notice it's time to go back to school. We haven't written any tests."

Another student, Sne Mngati, said despite not protesting, she believed Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande was wrong to recommend fee increments capped at 8%.

"What did we ask for? We want zero fees. Even if it is 2% it is not good enough."

Fires being investigated

She added that many students in KwaZulu-Natal came from poor families.

"We are not wealthy students like Wits and UCT. Even the smallest increase has an impact on us."

Nosipho Mkizwana said she was already struggling to pay for university fees.

"We are already struggling to pay our fees as it is. If they increase it, we will struggle more. It is pointless to increase fees when we cannot afford what is currently happening."

Mkizwana said it was good that students were not protesting in Durban.

"I think it is good we are not protesting. We had almost three weeks suspended because of our striking. We have been protesting for a long time. To others, it is just happening. But for us it was going on weeks ago."

Earlier this month, Howard College's law library was set alight. A coffee shop in a cafeteria and an exam hall on the Pietermaritzburg campus were gutted by fire.

Police are currently investigating a case of arson.

Read more on:    ukzn  |  pietermaritzburg  |  university fees  |  university protests

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