Criminal acts of violence and vandalism on campuses condemned by varsity, Nzimande and student union

Blade Nzimande
Image: Rogan Ward.

Security has been beefed up at the University of Fort Hare in East London due to increasing violent incidents as a result of the university shutdown. 

University spokesperson Tandi Mapukata said the management is deeply perturbed by the incidents of violence and vandalism both on the Alice and East London campuses ever since the launch of the call by the South African Union of Students (Saus) to shut down campuses across the country.

“Since Tuesday there have been incidents of verbal and physical intimidation of other students, staff and their families as well as damage to staff assets and university buildings. Cars belongings to public members were pelted with stones,” Mapukata said.

She said the disruptions have severely hampered the registration of new and returning students and are interfering with the start of the academic programme for 2020.

“Lectures are meant to commence on February 3 on all campuses but this will not be possible if the disruptions of registrations does not cease,” Mapukata said.

Vice-chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu said they are doing everything to stabilise the situation on all campuses so as to resume operations.

“We are working closely with our in-house security as well as contracted security personnel and SAPS. We condemn all acts of criminality, including targeting senior staff members and their families,” Buhlungu said.

Meanwhile, minister of higher education Blade Nzimande condemned all acts of violence and destruction of university and private properties.

“Protesting students must refrain from intimidating the general student population and university employees by making inflammatory and provocative statements that incite violence,” Nzimande said.

Nzimande further warned students that destruction of property is a criminal offence and all those engaging in such acts will be apprehended by law enforcement agencies and face the full might of the law.

“I wish to reiterate to student leaders that my door is always open for any further engagement and discussion. However, such engagements cannot take place in an environment of violence and destruction,” Nzimande said.

Saus national spokesperson Thabo Shingange said they have noted with concern the escalating clashes and violence between students and private security at some of the universities.

“As a union we condemn any violence during these protests as our fight is one for access and success into institutions of higher learning. That being said, as a union we take issue with anyone who will torch buildings, lecture halls, libraries etc. which are the very same infrastructure required to facilitate this educational discourse that we are fighting for.

"We distance ourselves from any acts of criminality that seek to undermine our genuine cause. Notwithstanding, we note the regrettable measures taken by some vice-vhancellors to further provoke students when embarking on a nonviolent protest. As Saus we are making a clarion call to stop sending private security to harass students and stop threatening to suspend SRC members,” Shingange said.

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