Protests erupt again at UKZN as post-grads demand funding

UKZN students during the protest action on Thursday.
UKZN students during the protest action on Thursday.
Nokuthula Khanyile

Protest action once again erupted at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus on Thursday, with students claiming that the university had failed to honour its agreement to fund post-graduate students. 

Student Representative Council (SRC) president Samkelo Gudazi told The Witnes on Thursday that the protest action had extended to several of the institution’s campuses, including Howard College, Edgewood and Westville.

Gudazi said the university had backtracked on the agreement and was now saying that only students who received a 60% average would be funded.

“We told the university to fund all the students but now they say they don’t have the funds. They are telling us that they only had R49 million and it has been exhausted. That is not our problem, we want the students to be funded.”

He said the university had promised to sustain all the students who had made appeals for funding.

“We are in March now. These students don’t even have money for meals. How are we expected to continue with the normal programming when students continue to suffer? We will only go back to class once this has been sorted out,” Gudazi said.

He said more than 700 post-graduate students have been left in the lurch without funding.

The students also complained that the university had failed to roll out Wi-Fi in leased residences after an agreement was reached with the SRC that the service would be provided.

University of KwaZulu-Natal students during a protest at the Pietermaritzburg campus on Thursday.

The students said they have to walk to campus late at night, which makes them targets for robbery.

“Students are continuously robbed, stabbed and the university is refusing to put security measures in place in ensuring their safety.”

On Thursday, UKZN spokesperson Normah Zondo said in a statement that the academic programme had been suspended with immediate effect until further notice, on the UKZN Edgewood and Westville campuses.

“The suspension will allow management space to engage with student leadership and to ensure safety and security of our staff and property,” said Zondo.

She did not respond to questions by The Witness on whether or not the suspension of lectures applied to the Pietermaritzburg campus as well.

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