Protests continue unabated at UKZN as buildings are set alight

2020-02-03 17:12
Violent protests have broken out at UKZN campuses in Durban. (Photo supplied)

Violent protests have broken out at UKZN campuses in Durban. (Photo supplied)

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Despite the announcement of the commencement of its academic programme, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) experienced another day of protests on Monday as buildings were set alight.

"University Management is deeply disappointed that some of the student body are continuing to engage in acts of violence instead of reasoned discussion on how we can work through the challenges and make the best of our circumstances," university spokesperson Ashton Bodrick said.

He said students had protested at the Westville, Howard College, Edgewood and Pietermaritzburg campuses in the morning.

Bodrick said the building housing the HIV and Aids support unit at the Howard College campus was set alight in the afternoon.

"Fire and Emergency services were called to the scene. Two separate acts of arson were also committed on the campus between last night and the early hours of this morning. An office at the same HIV and Aids Centre was set alight around 11pm last night and an office at the Department of Student Residence Affairs was set alight around 5am this morning."

He said university security immediately extinguished both fires.

Bodrick said security was further bolstered and "every effort is being made to ensure that the academic programme proceeds as scheduled without any further interruptions".

"The university strongly denounces all acts of criminal behavior. There is no excuse for any act of violence and damage/destruction of valuable university resources and property. All incidents of assault, destruction of property and arson are being investigated by University Risk Management Services (RMS) and SAPS."

He said the academic programme at its Edgewood campus "has just been suspended for the rest of the afternoon".

Student demands too taxing

Bodrick further stated that the university could not afford student demands. Students have asked that historic debt be cancelled in a national strike that has plagued universities throughout SA.

"Following extensive deliberations on the matter of student demands, University management has decided that it is not possible to grant any further concessions without putting the University at risk of bankruptcy."

Bodrick said the university could not self-sabotage.

"We cannot act in a way that is destructive to the university's very foundations and would be self-defeating for the entire student body and future generations. The University cannot concede to what it cannot afford."

READ | Tensions rise at UKZN as building set alight while hundreds of students protest

Referring to exclusions on academic grounds, he said the university has a duty to ensure that the integrity and worth of UKZN qualifications are preserved.

"If failed or failing students are permitted to remain and even graduate, the University will have no credibility and UKZN qualifications will be meaningless."

Bodrick said the university could not "compromise on this or allow this to happen".

He said perpetrators involved in violent protests would be apprehended and handed to police for prosecution.

"Security has been further bolstered and every effort is being made to ensure that the academic programme proceeds as scheduled without any further interruptions."

Read more on:    ukzn  |  durban  |  university protests
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