We have lost a lot of time - non-protesting UKZN students

2016-09-22 12:03
Students protest at UKZN.

Students protest at UKZN. (Jeff Wicks)

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Durban – While students clash with police at UKZN's Pietermaritzburg campus on Thursday morning, it appears to be business as usual at the institution's Westville campus.

News24 canvassed some of the students at Westville to find out why they chose not to protest.

Miguel Murugan, 20, a second year accounting student said he was concerned with the time lost during protests.

"We have been on strike for two weeks. We just got back. I want to complete my academic year as soon as possible. We have lost a lot of time."

Murugan said he sympathised with the #FeesMustFall movement and poor students.

"If you want to get a free education you should be able to. It is a good cause but the damage it is causing now is concerning."

Falling behind

An 18-year-old business science student who did not want to be named said she also found there had been a number of disruptions to her academic programme.

"Things have already been quite bad for us here. I do not think education should be free for all though. There needs to be a price paid. We need to find a compromise for everyone."

Shiv Naidoo, 21, said she in principle agreed with the concept of #FeesMustFall. However, she also feared falling behind on her studies.

"In terms of the academic programme we are quite behind with work. The semester is longer than usual. We have lost a holiday. The work load has increased because all of the tests are around the same time."

She added that she felt security and police had been heavy-handed during protests.

"The authorities are very strong-armed. They were sitting in the canteen and they swore and chased us...They were violent."

Plan of action

Byron Mtshali, 22, who is studying optometry, said he was against the violence used by fellow students.

"There are so many great principles we are fighting for. But the way some of the students here lose it is terrible. We need to not destroy property. We can just demonstrate peacefully."

The student representative council (SRC) of UKZN's Howard College is expected to announce their plan of action on Thursday.

This comes after a brief meeting with hundreds of students on the campus on Wednesday amid a heightened security presence.

Police allowed student leaders to engage with the group even though a court interdict obtained by the university prevents any form of "unlawful gathering".

SRC deputy president Sunshine Myende said they had heard the grievances of the students and would take them back to their leadership.

Academic programmes suspended

She said they would have a stance, mandated by the students, by Thursday morning.

During the engagement, students were unequivocal in their call for free education and rejected the framework for fee increases set by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande.

Several universities around the country have suspended activities after Nzimande announced a recommended fee increase capped at 8%.

Nzimande also announced that poor students and students whose families earned less than R600 000 a year would not have their fees increased for the second year running.

Students falling outside these categories would have to wait to see what increase individual universities decided on.

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

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