Walter Sisulu University closes 3 campuses amid 'violent' student protests

2018-03-09 22:44
Walter Sisulu University protest (File, News24 user)

Walter Sisulu University protest (File, News24 user)

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East London – The Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in the Eastern Cape shut down two more of its campuses on Friday due to violent student protests over an accommodation shortage.

University management resolved to close the Butterworth and Buffalo City campuses indefinitely following the outbreak of violent protests that damaged property and put lives at risk, said university spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo.

She said the decision followed vice-chancellor Rob Midgley's decision to close the Nelson Mandela Drive campus in Mthatha with immediate effect on Thursday.

Only one of the institution's four campuses remains open.

She said the "rampage" at the Mthatha campus was "boisterous and irrepressible", which left Midgley with no choice but to stop all administrative, teaching and learning activities in order to protect the university's assets and "above all, lives which includes the students' lives".

"It saddens us to close the campus because the dire financial situation of many of our students does not allow them to travel back home. But we cannot keep them on campus because their safety is not guaranteed. We also know that there are many students who do not support the violent nature of the current protests," she said.

Ongoing discussions between management, student leaders

Tukwayo said the institution strongly condemned the torching of vehicles and vandalism of university and private property.

Protesters at the Butterworth and Buffalo City campuses took their demonstration to public roads, threatening lives, alleged Tukwayo.

"Both campuses' students cited unhappiness around accommodation and general infrastructure development, and this has led to them resolving to shut down these campuses by chasing staff from offices and stopping academic operations," she said in a statement earlier on Friday.

She told News24 on Friday evening that it was still unclear when the academic programme would resume at the affected campuses.

Tukwayo said in addition to the online room allocation of student accommodation, students also complained about the institutional G7 rule (academic exclusion of non-performing students) which appears in the university's prospectus.

She said the rule was a decision of the university's senate.

Students and staff had been requested to leave the three campuses while management continued to engage the student leadership in the hope of finding "an amicable solution to the ongoing conflict in order to bring normality, reopen the campuses for academic progression".

Read more on:    walter sisulu university  |  east london  |  education

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