varsity protest stalls lectures
Lectures were disrupted at the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal yesterday when protesting students demanded the immediate resignation of the housing director.
Students say the housing director, Vasanthie Naidoo, is not competent to perform her duties providing accommodation for students coming from afar.
The protest was, however, ended when the university management met student leaders and agreed to accommodate at least 66 students immediately.
The strike was suspended, with the students representative council (SRC) agreeing to accept management's promise to accommodate some of the students, without delay.
"We have agreed to call off the strike following management's commitment to lease outside buildings to accommodate all deserving students.
"But we are going to monitor the situation very closely that these promises come true," said SRC general secretary Kwazi Mshengu.
Mshengu said they had decided to embark on a protest after repeated pleas to the university to provide students with accommodation.
"We have been talking about this problem for too long and have been ignored.
"Going on strike seemed to be the only way to get their attention," he said.
Mshengu said they had gone as far as identifying buildings that could be utilised.
He said there were scores of students who travelled from afar every day. Some squatted with friends, causing overcrowding in existing residences, said Mshengu.
University public relations officer Dasarath Chetty said students wanted to show their dissatisfaction about the issues of accommodation, but would not say that it was a strike.
"About 100 students held a march to highlight their grievances. The issue of accommodation is a problem at all university campuses," said Chetty.
He said the project to build residences for students had kicked off and already one housing area had been built at the Westville campus.