Lectures suspended as students protest

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Faculty of Education students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Edgewood campus have embarked on a strike, demanding that students owing fees for the previous year be allowed to register this year.

More than 200 students at the campus in Pinetown, near Durban, protested in solidarity with their fellow students.

The students owing fees are beneficiaries of the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) - which has not honoured some of the payments

Lectures were suspended for the day while students protested on campus. By late yesterday, members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) and the university management were still locked in meetings.

SRC deputy president Thabani Nkosi said students owing fees were, at the beginning of the year, asked to fill in forms committing themselves as to how they were going to repay the fees.

Nkosi said those students are still waiting for a reply from the university.

He said they were doing everything possible to resolve the issue with the management so that lectures could continue as usual.

The university is no stranger to student protests. Chaos erupted at the university's Pietermaritzburg campus two weeks ago when students protested over the slow process of allocating accommodation to students.

The students claimed that the housing director, Vasanthie Naidoo, was not competent to perform her duties.

The protest was, however, short-lived because the university management - after meeting with the student leaders - agreed to accommodate at least 66 students immediately, and agreed to lease outside accommodation to the rest of the students.

The strike was immediately suspended, with the SRC agreeing to cool things down and accepting management's promise to accommodate some of the students immediately while looking for a building to lease to the rest of the students.

The university's vice chancellor, Dasarath Chetty, was not available for comment.

Less than a month ago, the Durban University of Technology (DUT) was closed down for a week following protests by students from poor families demanding that fee-owing students be allowed to register.

The protests became violent, and resulted in clashes between police and students. Several students were injured when police fired rubber bullets and teargas.