KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has called for calm at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN). This is after a wave of violent protests at some of the University’s campuses earlier this week.
At the Edgewood campus, a car was set on fire, while a guardhouse and a kitchen attached to a student examination hall were burnt at the Pietermaritzburg campus. An HIV/Aids support unit at the Howard College campus in Durban was also torched.
Students are protesting about funding issues, particularly the 15% of their historic debt that they are required to pay before they are cleared for registration.
Zikalala says students and management should work together to find a solution, “We also wish to call on all of them the students and the management to quickly sit down and find each other on issues that are causing this tension. We believe that it is possible to ensure that all problems be resolved through proper processes. And we call on them to sit and discuss and we will try to intervene and facilitate the process.”
Meanwhile, UKZN’s Student Representative Council (SRC) has distanced itself from violent protest action that has caused the academic programme to be suspended at all campuses.
SRC Secretary-General, Nqobi Msesane, says they condemn the torching of infrastructure and do not believe young academics can resort to violent means.
The University’s Edgewood campus in Pinetown saw sporadic protest action on Tuesday while a building was set alight at the Pietermaritzburg campus on Monday.
Msesane says their concerns relate to registration and students’ accommodation.
“We condemn the burning of infrastructure. Nonetheless, we have issues that are outstanding as the university. Students cannot be cleared for registration simply because they owe the university. Students are resolute that nothing is going to happen on these campuses. We don’t know that those are students who are vandalising and burning the university’s property. We don’t believe that students who are academics can resort to burning the infrastructure that they need so we do not believe that those are students. It might be people that are sent to the university by whoever, they want to incur whatever they want to incur. We don’t believe our students did that.”