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Students call for DHET and SAPS intervention over ongoing protests at UniZulu

The University of Zululand’s (Unizulu) management has closed one of its campuses following ongoing violent protests. Picture: Facebook

The University of Zululand’s (Unizulu) management has closed one of its campuses following ongoing violent protests. Picture: Facebook

Published Mar 16, 2022

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The Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO) in KwaZulu-Natal is calling on the Department of Higher Education and Training as well as police management to intervene in the ongoing protests at the University of Zululand's KwaDlangezwa campus. They say, as a result of the violent protests, the university has had to shut down the campus.

DASO's Sthabelo Ntshangase said the protest is due to the safety concerns at the off-campus residences, which follows last week’s incident where students were robbed at one of the residences. Laptops were stolen as well as cellphones and clothes.

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Ntshangase added that female students were allegedly sexually assaulted during this incident. There were also concerns over off-campus safety have been an ongoing issue for years now without any remedial solutions from the university management.

"Since 2019, there have been similar protests regarding the safety of students who live in off-campus residences. Following that strike, the university management promised to address the issue of safety, but to date, nothing has been implemented, causing grave frustration amongst students. Even more concerning is the fact that there is no police station nearby or police visibility even though this area is a hotspot for robberies," Ntshangase said.

Ntshangase said they are calling on ministers Blade Nzimande and Bheki Cele to urgently intervene as the university management has failed students.

In a statement on its Facebook page, UniZulu management said: “The business of the University was disrupted this morning by an unruly mob that threatened to burn the University property. The University Management has the responsibility to safeguard the lives of its students, staff and property.

“In light of this real and existing threat, the management has decided to suspend teaching and learning on the University campus with immediate effect. To ensure that students are not caught in the crossfire, all students must evacuate the campus premises immediately.

“Management cannot sit idle while individuals purporting to be students commit criminal acts of thuggery, damage to property, theft and threat to human life.

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“We regret the inconvenience that this will cause to students that remain committed to their studies. Students will be informed in due course of what measures will be implemented to safeguard the academic programme.

Meanwhile, the university issued a statement stating that these were fake reports, adding that it had adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards violence and criminal behaviour. It stated that it had enlisted the police and public order policing, who were patrolling the area to assist and follow up on incidents of crime.

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