Anger at Unisa exam fracas
Durban - Hundreds of Unisa students demanded a second chance to write their exams after they were attacked with stones halfway through their papers in Durban on Monday.
The students, who were writing a variety of subjects, were attacked by about 40 other students at the Badminton Hall exam centre near the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The attackers demanded to be allowed to write their papers despite being late.
The exams started at 8.30am and students had been instructed to be seated by 8.15, but some arrived at about 8.45. They said they had been travelling from Umlazi and had been delayed by heavy traffic.
After the latecomers failed in their attempt to be admitted, they became violent and demanded that those already writing stop.
They kicked the doors of the centre and hurled stones at other students and invigilators.
Unisa spokesman Martin Ramotshela said the institution was investigating the situation and would release a statement to the media later on whether the students would be able to write again.
During the attack, students had to abandon their papers and, together with invigilators, run for cover.
Some of the students, however, did return later to write or attempt to write their papers once police had restored order.
Police were called in to control the situation and remove those who had not marked the register.
“As we were writing we heard noise from outside, and we heard the roller doors banging violently. People came in making noise and hurling stones at us,” said a student, who did not want to be named.
“We had to run outside with our question and answer papers. After police had calmed the situation we returned to the hall, but we could not continue to write properly because we had lost time,” said the student.
Some of the late students allegedly grabbed exam question scripts from others.
“Others were taking pictures of the scripts using cellphones,” another student said.
Those who came late alleged that during the disruption some students who had signed the register went to their cars and copied questions and then returned to write again.
Ntokozo Mngomezulu, a second-year Bachelor of Education student, said she arrived 10 minutes late for her natural science paper.
She said she had left home at 7am and her taxi was caught up in traffic congestion in V section.
“The traffic moved very slowly as there was only one lane open because of the roadworks.
“There was a broken down truck near Mega City Mall. When I finally arrived at the centre after 8.30am, I was not allowed to write.”
She said they had been told they would only get another chance to write in November.
She said previously Unisa had used an exam centre in Umlazi, but last week they were told that the centre was no longer available.
Olwande Mkhize said she was supposed to write an English paper, which she required to complete her postgraduate certificate in education.
“If I don’t write now it means that I will only be able to write in November, and I will not be able to apply for a job,” she said.
Ramotshela said that the exam centres were at times changed for security reasons or because lease agreements had expired.
“It was not the first time that students had written at this particular venue. Venues are changed all the time. We are looking at the cause of today’s situation,” he said.