North-West University students told to vacate Mahikeng campus 'until further notice' after violence

NWU Mahikeng Campus. (Photo: North-West University, nwu.ac.za)
NWU Mahikeng Campus. (Photo: North-West University, nwu.ac.za)

Students at the North-West University's Mahikeng campus have been asked to vacate the premises by 15:00 on Tuesday after the institution closed the campus.

This follows incidents of violence at the university on Monday, with the South African Union of Students (SAUS) calling for campuses across the country to be shut down. 

The NWU said in a statement on Tuesday that it was "deeply concerned" about the violence. A group of students prevented people from entering the premises on Monday morning. 

On Monday evening, senior students allegedly assaulted other students and damaged university property. 

The NWU has reported the incidents to the police and an assault case has been opened at the Mmabatho police station. 

"The safety of students and staff on campus is increasingly in jeopardy," said Louis Jacobs, director of corporate communications at the NWU. 

"Therefore, the university management has, after consultations with relevant stakeholders, including the [police], resolved to close the campus until further notice..."

According to the NWU, the "disruptive actions" have had a negative impact on several services, including the registration of first-year and returning students, as well as assistance to students awaiting financial clearance from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

"We regret the inconvenience to all our stakeholders and reiterate our commitment to safety and a conducive environment for teaching and learning, research and an engaged student life," Jacobs said.

READ | Student union calls for national university shutdown after talks break down

The SAUS has called for a national shutdown of all universities after talks with the Department of Higher Education and Training seemingly failed, according to the union, News24 reported on Monday.

The shutdown call follows a purported breakdown in talks between the department, the SAUS, student representative council presidents and secretaries general of South African public universities.

According to the union, it held talks with 21 of the 26 public universities. Students from 18 have agreed to join the shutdown.

Issues of concern for the SAUS include access to higher education for poor students.

This includes students from middle-income backgrounds who cannot register due to historic debt, no walk-in applications at universities, students who cannot afford post-graduate studies and those whose results have been withheld by universities, the union said in a statement on Monday.

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