Fri Oct 21 15:13:41 SAST 2016

violence at varsity - students charged

By Alex Matlala | Aug 13, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE 47 students arrested at the University of Limpopo's Turfloop campus after a violent protest will appear in the Mankweng magistrate's court today.

Mankweng police spokesperson Malan Nchabeleng said yesterday they would be charged with arson and malicious damage to property.

The university campus was set alight on Tuesday after students went on the rampage and set two entrances and a security hostel alight.

The students also upturned rubbish bins and smashed the windowpanes of hostels and other university buildings.

The students were protesting against, among other issues, the alleged employment of unqualified lecturers, pass marks, transport and food price increases at the university's cafeterias.

Students representative council president Walter Modiba said management had appointed unqualified members of their families, friends and relatives as lecturers in certain departments. Management had also adopted the contentious rule of sub-minimum marks for a pass at the end of the year without first consulting students.

The rule allegedly fails students who obtain less than 50percent in their year assessments, whether or not they perform well in their examinations.

In a memorandum submitted last Friday the students also accused management of failing to prioritise the purchasing of buses and other vehicles for study trips.

"The management spends huge amounts of money on outside transport service providers who charge exorbitant prices. Their badly-maintained vehicles often lead to accidents," Modiba claimed.

Modiba was referring to an incident last year in which three students died and several others were hospitalised after a bus ploughed into trees on the side of the road.

The students also called on management to discontinue the permits of the current catering contractors.

They accuse the catering contractors of selling food at exorbitant prices.

Some of the protesting students said they suspected that certain lecturers were benefiting from the current catering companies.

"How can you charge students exorbitant food prices knowing they have no income.

"These people are ripping us of our parents' hard-earned money. They must leave now and not later," said Clement Khubayi, a second- year student.

University spokesperson Dinkwanyana Mohuba said management had no option but to call the police when students went on the rampage, burning property, upturning rubbish bins and chasing lecturers out of lecture halls.

"We called the police to quell the violent situation and to protect the lives of our lecturers. It is unfortunate that some students were injured in the process," he said.

Mohuba said management had agreed in principle with students on Friday that some of their grievances were genuine and would receive prompt attention "but they did not wait for resolution of these and instead torched and trashed the university".


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