04/08/2014.Medunsa students protest outside the Department of Higher Education were they handed over a memorundum complaining about the change of name from Medunsa to Sefako Makgato Health Science University. Picture: Masi Losi

Pretoria - After two weeks of violent protests at the Medical University of South Africa (Medunsa), several lecturers have been placed on precautionary suspension.

Students at the medical institution went on the rampage last week, destroying property and demanding action against lecturers teaching fifth-year paediatrics who, they claim, victimised students and deliberately failed some.

They also demanded better funding for students and the immediate promotion of affected students to sixth year with full credit when the academic programme resumed.

On Monday, the students marched through the streets of Pretoria to the offices of the Department of Higher Education and Training.

But the department said there was no need for the march and, instead, students should have used the time to prepare to go back to classes.

A member of the student representative council, Tshepo Mokoena, said: “We will not go back to school until these issues are sorted out. The department said we have to wait for a report on our grievances before the end of the week. We will wait for that.”

Department spokesman Khaye Nkwanyana said the university senate had appointed a task team to investigate the students’ claims.

“We told management that all those who have been implicated be placed on precautionary suspension immediately.”

He could not confirm how many lecturers had been suspended.

He said the department hoped to get the task team report by the end of the week.

Nkwanyana said though the department had not seen the report yet, it confirmed some of the claims by students and that was why the lecturers had to be suspended, pending further investigations.

The SA Medical Association (Sama) said there should be a solution to the issue.

Dr Mpho Pooe, of Gauteng Sama, who attended the march, said: “Medunsa is the only university that understands the black students. It produces the crème de la crème of black medical students and we cannot sit back and watch it being destroyed.

“The department has to make decisions that will save it.”

She said Sama supported the students marching but did not agree with violence and damage to property.

During last week’s march at the university’s Ga-Rankuwa campus, students set a car alight, and broke doors and windows.

“We want a solution to this.

“As Sama we are caught in the middle because students are our members and lecturers are our members.

“The department has to come with a solution,” Pooe added.

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