Durban - The expulsion of 24 students fingered for the recent torching of one of the buildings at the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) should serve as a warning that the institution will not put up with any form of violence and destruction of property.
This was said by university Vice-Chancellor Professor Marcus Ramogale this week.
He said tertiary institutions needed to stand together to protect the education system from what he labelled as “welfare seekers”, students that enter the system in order to access the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and other student packages without the intention of pursuing their studies.
He said the recent unrest had strengthened the university management’s resolve to not allow mayhem on campus.
“We will not allow ourselves to be derailed by troublemakers and for decay to be brought to Mangosuthu University of Technology. No amount of grievances should lead to the destruction of property,” said Ramogale.
As a demonstration of this, Ramogale added, the 24 students who had been implicated in the torching incident had since been expelled, with the president and secretary of the Students’ Representative Council among those booted out.
This followed an investigation and the pursuit of criminal charges against the implicated individuals.
Some of the agitators that had brought mayhem were found to be “hired guns”, individuals with no association to the institution, but who had been invited into the institution by the MUT students. He added they were convinced that such a pattern was not limited to this university, but was found on many different campuses.
The vice-chancellor suggested the development of a “blacklist of troublemakers” which could be circulated among institutions to ensure that campuses were protected from violent incidents.
SA Union of Students spokesperson Asive Dlanjwa said they were against any form of violence on campuses, but cautioned against any heavy-handed approach that would discriminate against students who were expressing legitimate concerns.
“We have been consistent in our call that we condemn any form of violence among students or the destruction of property, because burning property means that students will suffer. So on this matter we are quite firm,” Dlanjwa added.
He conceded that in the past, criminal elements had hijacked some of the student protests at campuses, often resulting in rioting.
“We are aware of instances where imposters come and infiltrate what is a legitimate protest action by students and engage in some criminal activity. On the matter we are always calling on students to be alert of such individuals,” he said, adding that security at campuses should be extra careful about those entering premises, so that students were protected from criminals.