BACK TO CLASS AT KZN VARSITY
LECTURES at the strife torn Durban University of Technology got under way peacefully yesterday morning but were later marred by a violent incident at the Pietermaritzburg campus.
Police were called in to monitor the situation after a small group of students smashed windows at the administration office.
No arrests were made, police said. However, classes at the Durban campus went ahead without any problems.
DUT has suffered violent student protests in the past month that resulted in more than 60 students being arrested.
Yesterday the institution's management and student leaders displayed a show of solidarity when they jointly addressed a mass meeting in Durban in which they urged students to return to classes.
In Durban students gathered at the university's Fred Crookes Sports Complex at the Steve Biko campus.
They were given feedback by acting vice-chancellor Nqabomzi Gawe. She assured students that their grievances were being looked into and asked for patience and cooperation for the institution to function properly.
"DUT is a higher learning institution. Lost time will lead to a lack of credibility for the institution," Gawe said.
She appealed to the students to respect the Minister of Higher Learning and Training's decision to appoint a task team to mediate in talks between management and the students.
Lack of accommodation and expensive food were high on the list of the students' grievances submitted to management.
"All the students who still need accommodation will be helped by the end of today, but it will take the whole week to finalise the issue of food provided within the institution," Gawe said.
Higher education department spokesperson Ranjeni Munusamy said the task team appointed by Minister Blade Nzimande will start investigations officially and were given 20 days (starting yesterday) to report their findings.
"The task team will make suggestions about short, medium and long-term measures to ensure that the culture of teaching and learning at the institution is restored.
"It will provide the Minister with a full report within 20 days," she said.
Munusamy said Nzimande called on the students to return to class while the investigation continues and that they did not disrupt lectures.
Student leaders welcomed the latest efforts by management and the national department of education.
"We value the importance of learning as students but we want the environment to be conducive to learning," Mfanafuthi Ngwabe, DUT SRC president, said.
S'celo Mabizela, SRC secretary at Midlands campus said: "We hope to resume with lectures tomorrow but we want director Reginald Ngcobo to be suspended so that the investigations can continue peacefully."