PICS: Specialist team to investigate latest UKZN arson incident

By Daily News Reporter Time of article published Mar 12, 2020

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Durban - The latest torching of a building at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Edgewood campus was committed by "parasitic criminal elements", the beleaguered institution said in a statement on Thursday.

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku said the UKZN management was outraged by the torching of the auditorium at the campus on Wednesday night and vowed that no stone will be left unturned to bring the perpetrators to book.

“The Premier of KZN, Honourable Sihle Zikalala, has offered to assist us with a specialist forensic team and additional police and investigative resources to root out the parasitic criminal elements within our midst,” said Poku, adding that the University is now more determined to end criminality on campus and weed out those responsible. 

UKZN said incident did not result in any injuries or fatalities.

Poku said the incident took place after weeks of what the university described as  careful and honest negotiations between management and student leadership in a bid to restore normality to the University. 

“There have been no disruptions or protests in recent weeks; and the protest that we had, though highly hyperbolic and destructive, was mercifully short lived (a little over a week of the academic program lost). But make no mistake, this violence was neither random nor pointless. There remain factions within the university determined to turn the clock back - to make corrupt practices, parasitic behaviour and mired systems work for individuals and groups at the expense UKZN’s mission," he said.

"We recognise that this cowardly attack on the infrastructure of the university is intended to intimidate us - to make us lose our resolve and to deflect us from initiating sweeping reforms that will ensure the institution’s sustainability and heighten its national and international standing,” Poku said, adding that university leadership will continue to root out the destructive culture of those who want to drain university’s resources with impunity.

UKZN said the university recently removed some 2 000 individuals who have been “professional students” on three-year degrees for eight years or more without paying fees and routinely holding the institution ransom through unrest for personal concessions. 

Various departments and functions of the university are similarly under intense fiscal scrutiny and review for their fitness for purpose and performance, key amongst these being the student residences and transport, the university said. 

 “The actions of the perpetrators can never be justified against the ideals of this university. We will continue the vital work of ensuring that the life of the university, the safety of our students and staff, and the quality of the work we do together continues to go from strength to strength. Craven cowardice will continue to be met with forthright honesty and renewed determination to serve all members of the UKZN community,” said Poku.

Daily News

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