Nzimande meets with Sefako Makgatho university council following ongoing student protests

Blade Nzimande. (File)
Blade Nzimande. (File)

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, has met with the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University Council following ongoing student protests at the campus in Pretoria.

Academics at the university came to a halt on July 29 when students and staff were barred from the university grounds by protesting students, according to the Pretoria News. The protestors called for the removal of the vice-chancellor and executive management members, and raised concerns around lacking infrastructure on the campus.

The vice-chancellor Professor Chris de Beer was placed on special leave earlier this month. According to a statement issued by Council chairperson Maria Rambauli on August 6, the council had received a confidential report with allegations levelled against De Beer.

In her statement, Rambauli said after long deliberations, and in the spirit of justice and fairness, the council ruled that the allegations against De Beer warranted an investigation.

"It should be underlined that the vice-chancellor remains innocent until proven otherwise, and decision of the council does not in any way imply that there was any wrongdoing on his part. He remains the vice-chancellor of the university even if he is on special leave, under the circumstances," Rambauli said.

Ongoing protests

However, protests have continued to flare up on the campus.

Nzimande met with the Council on Wednesday where he urged members to "urgently deal with issues relating to the university infrastructure plan and backlogs, allegations of corruption and racial practices at the University, which also affect senior managers, and the finalisation of the Forensic Investigations Report".

The Council briefed Nzimande on their plan to "restore stability and good corporate governance" following the ongoing protests. The Council will be expected to provide Nzimande with a progress report in two weeks, as well as a concrete long-term plan including a proactive strategy to combat corruption.

"I urge the Council, unions and student leadership to remain calm and to collectively work together in ending the protest and in dealing with all challenges facing this university," said Nzimande.

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