Students walk out of the Tshwane University of Technology campus in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria. Management has given students until Tuesday to vacate premises of the university dogged by violent protests. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA

Pretoria – The majority of Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) students would not vacate the Soshanguve campus despite an instruction to do so, the local Student Representative Council (SRC) deputy president Sthembiso Shandu vowed on Tuesday.

“Yes, we are a but worried that some students are scared and they are leaving campus, but we are sure the majority of students have never left. It is only students staying around who have decided to go to their relatives in the meantime. We haven’t seen students from distant places leaving,” Shandu told reporters at the campus.

“We are advising the vice-chancellor that you cannot calm the university by force. You are not solving the situation but making it worse. The vice-chancellor must know that this is not his tuck-shop but a national asset. This decision is going to destroy the image of our university.”

On Tuesday, the TUT management shut down the Soshanguve campus until next month due to the ongoing disruption of lectures.

Vice-Chancellor Lourens van Staden said students were instructed to vacate residences by Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, despite discussions between management, workers the student representative council, and agreements reached, as well as a court interdict that is still in force, a small group of people are continuing to disrupt classes at the Soshanguve campuses. It must be noted that a number of people who are causing this disruptions are in fact not registered TUT students,” Van Staden said on Monday.

He said because of the increasing violence, intimidation and assaults, the institution had a responsibility to ensure the safety of its students and staff.

The campus would reopen on April 5, while the institution’s main campus in Pretoria would not be affected by the month-long closure.

“Only registered students will be allowed on the campus when it reopens. The recess scheduled for June and July will be utilised to catch up on the academic time lost as a result of the closure,” said Van Staden.

Higher education institutions in Pretoria have been marred by protests against outsourcing in recent weeks. The institutions obtained court interdicts barring protests at campuses.

On Tuesday, some students were carrying large bags out of the university campus. Several armed guards were at the main entrances and numerous police officers were near the scene.

Shandu said the decision to shutdown the campus must be reviewed.

“We are not going to agree to a saying that classes shall close simply because a white man is failing to meet us. He (Van Staden) is failing to sit at the table with us. He must stop this thing,” said Shandu.

He said the students were writing to the university council chairperson Dr Bandile Masuku on Tuesday, requesting that “the stupid decision” to shut campus be urgently reviewed.

“We believe that this is the most stupid decision ever taken by the professors and doctors of this university since they came in.”

Shandu said the students protest had been peaceful.

“The university is posing the violence to us. We have been protesting for two weeks and we have never burnt even a single building. We didn’t break even even a single classroom. It is the first time that we had a strike at TUT and not vandalise anything,” he added.

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