Suspended students hope for a reprieve

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

The 12 students suspended from Mangosuthu University of Technology, mainly SRC members, will know their fate today - nearly four months after they were barred from the institution.

Their suspensions came after they were accused of orchestrating an illegal strike on campus in March.

They were subsequently prevented from entering the university and could not write their June exams.

They told Sowetan yesterday that they hoped the disciplinary committee would exonerate them.

"It has been an unbearable and frustrating wait while our future hangs in the balance," they said.

"We will first hear what the DC has to say today and challenge the outcome if needs be. We will even consider going to court."

The students, who do not have legal representation, say they were prevented from doing so by the university.

"We were suspended for fighting for quality education," said one of the students, who declined to be identified. "The issue of the poor quality of our lecturers was at the top of the list.

"It is a genuine grievance. We are sick and tired of being ignored."

The university has since last month advertised more than 30 lecturer posts . A further 30 posts, including that of senior directors, were also advertised.

One of the students said besides losing out on learning time and not being able to write the mid-term exams, he had lost out on an important workplace posting.

"I was supposed to be doing my two months in-service training in June and July," he said. "I was not be accepted because I was supposed to have documents from the university confirming that I was a student."

The decision taken by the DC will indicate if the students will continue with their studies at the university and if they will continue to serve as SRC members.

The SRC has since the suspension of its members been functioning with only three members.

When asked why the department had not intervened in the matter since the students had been suspended for such a long time, national education spokesman Lunga Nqengelelehe said "the department does not interfere in the running of universities".

"Tertiary institutions are independent, though the government does subsidise and fund them. The department does not have a say in the running of these institutions."

The Mangosuthu University of Technology spokesman was not available for comment.