Vaal University halts work amid student protests

2016-05-12 17:07
(File, iStock)

(File, iStock)

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Vereeniging - The Vaal University of Technology has suspended academic activities and ordered students to vacate residences by 14:00 on Thursday following three days of protests.

"On the night of the 11th May 2016, violence escalated to a point where several buildings of the university were burned, placing non-protesting students and staff at great risk,” the university said in a statement on Thursday.

It said the Student Representative Council led an unauthorised protest last week Tuesday and on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Following the violence, the university suspended the academic programme until further notice. The university had tried to speak to the SRC and student leaders in an attempt to end the protests, but had no luck, it said.

SRC president Ian Chauke said students were unhappy with how management was handling the issues raised since September last year. These included addressing the safety of students on campus and the insourcing of security guards.

Stolen items

Chauke said that on Sunday students found two men allegedly in possession of items stolen from residences and took them to the security offices.

Overwhelmed by the number of students who wanted action taken against the thieves, the security guards hid the thieves and called for backup, Chauke claimed.

He claimed security guards shot at students with rubber bullets, including at those who were looking out of the windows of the residences.

The injured students were taken to Sebokeng Hospital for treatment and released.

On Monday, the SRC handed a memorandum of demands to the university. He said the university’s response had caused students to resort to violence.

"There was no vandalisation [sic] of property until they suspended us yesterday, that's when the burning started," Chauke said.

The university had since served Chauke, the rest of the SRC, and all the students who had taken part in the protests with a high court interdict preventing them from being violent.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  education  |  protests

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