Police Minister Bheki Cele on Thursday held a series of meetings with stakeholders in an effort to address the security concerns raised by students. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - Following continued violent protests by students at the University of Zululand in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Police Minister Bheki Cele on Thursday held a series of meetings with stakeholders in an effort to address the security concerns raised by students.

The protests follow the shooting of a student from the institution during a house robbery off campus.

The incident saw students stage violent protests where they blocked main roads and disrupted teaching and learning at three local high schools and the torching of the satellite police station.

Cele said condemned the school closures and arson calling it unacceptable.

“This is an act of criminality, those schools must be opened and pupils can’t be punished for issues they know nothing about. The authority of the State can’t be disrespected, no matter what the complaint is, those who have burnt the police station must be brought to book,” Cele said.

In an effort to address the students concerns and resolve safety challenges on and off campus, Cele held a meeting with Transport, Community Safety MEC in KwaZulu-Natal, Bheki Ntuli attended by the Institutions Management, Council and Head of security as well as the local Traditional Authority and the local police management.

Cele spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said the University has admitted to facing security challenges such as inadequate access control to the campus and environmental designs such as poor lighting on campus and on roads used by students to access the campus from nearby off campus places of residence. "The institution also admits that its surveillance system is not up to scratch," Themba said.

During the meeting Cele called on a strengthened working relationship between the University and the police service.

"We are encouraged by the local SAPS task team that has been set up to look into crimes committed against students. The team has produced results and has arrested wanted suspects who have been terrorising the student community," Cele said.

While the University management said its working on an integrated security plan of action to improve their internal security, however, it has raised concerns that 80 percent of their student population lives outside campus grounds and often embark in risky behavior which compromises their safety.

Cele has called for an urgent follow up meeting which will see students form part of the discussions to combat crime in the area alongside University management, local traditional authority and landlords renting out their properties to students. The University remains closed.

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Cape Argus