Student Unrest : Where are the Nation's Leaders?

2016-09-19 18:49

I was sickened by the wanton destruction (burning) of the KZN University’s Law Library, by students, a week or two back.

I understand that most of the books that were burnt are very rare/valuable/irreplaceable - in fact, the word is "priceless"!

Student unrest has continued nationwide - with disruption of lectures etc on campuses, and now even threats, by students, to close down campuses!!

Anarchistic and destructive student behaviour isn’t something new to us – last year, we saw students destroying property on the campuses of the Nation's universities.

I’ll certainly never forget watching those TV news clips of UCT students throwing original works of art onto bonfires - so scaringly reminiscent of the Nazis “burning of books” in Germany, back in 1933 - and we know what that led to!!

The cost of this destruction has been colossal - I read that damage to UKZN property, in the October 2015 to January 2016 period, amounted to some R82 million - and that at the University of the Western Cape the cost of damage done to property over the same period amounted to some R46 million - the figures for the other universities were also published.

I have little doubt that the cost of wilful damage to university property, in the current year, will far exceed last year's figures!

The question that I, as a law-abiding, tax-paying, citizen (perhaps idiot?) now ask is: “when are the country’s leaders going to stand up and publicly address the issue of student unrest, the wilful destruction of property, and the disruption to university life?”

Surely the President or, if not him, the Minister of Higher Education should appear on national television and announce TO THE NATION that the current wave of student unrest/destruction of property, will no longer be tolerated, and that the State will use whatever means are necessary to quell this unrest.

Importantly, it needs to be emphasised that the “ball is in the student’s court” as to how tough the State has to get to achieve this – if the students want to continue behaving in this manner, by destroying property etc, some students are quite likely to get their skulls cracked!!

The students MUST understand that it is them who must make that call and the consequences will follow their choice of action - students won't get hurt if they decide to "play the game" according to civilised norms!

No doubt, the threat of strong police action will be condemned, by many, as a “return to the days of Apartheid”! Tragically, any hint of discipline in the "New SA" now appears to get labelled as such!

I also have little doubt that a very high proportion of South Africans, and this obviously also includes our university students, believe that “democracy” means that you can do whatever you like, and that you will be given whatever you want – clearly a flawed and very dangerous belief!

The time has come for our leaders to stand up and be counted – student unrest, left unchecked, may soon become endemic in SA - at great economic cost to SA’s current and future generations!

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