Pretoria - Students at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Soshanguve South campus were on Sunday vacating their residences after the torching of the Gencor Hall - the main exam centre - on Saturday night.
The latest incident came after days of protests led by students demanding that all historical debt be written off.
By late Sunday, students received a text message saying all exams at the Soshanguve North and South campuses had been postponed indefinitely due to the volatility.
The message further read that “staff at these campuses should not report for duty. A further announcement will be made on Monday”.
TUT spokeswoman Willa de Ruyter was not available to comment on what the institution’s next step would be or confirm the authenticity of the text message. However, De Ruyter last week said exams would resume on Monday.
The students said they no longer felt safe following clashes with campus security guards, which left some them injured. “We no longer feel safe here. I am leaving because I don’t know if my safety is guaranteed on these premises, never mind being able to write my exams,” said third-year local governance student Dan Nhlapo.
He said the protests had cast a cloud of uncertainty over whether exams would be resuming. “Management has not said anything after this incident. I don’t see exams happening.” He said he was leaving the residence and going to his grandmother’s house, not too far from the campus in Soshanguve.
TUT central SRC president Bernard Sekgobela said the protests stemmed from a failure to give a decisive plan of action regarding the financial problems the students were facing.
“We have been engaging with management and they have not been able to tell us exactly what is to be done regarding these issue, which was raised in the memorandum given to them.
“They keep saying they will set up task teams to try to get solutions for those problems. But we know that task teams can take a long time to resolve a problem. Students are the ones leading this protest, not the SRC. Management needs to come down and talk to them,” he said.
The central SRC was not sure what led to the setting alight of the hall, he said.
Nhlanhla Tshabalala, a member of the central SRC, said events that unfolded over the past few days should be blamed on the university because campus security guards provoked the students.
“I am not sure who started the fire. I received a call that Gencor Hall was on fire on Saturday night. Management and the SRC have been in discussions about increasing security personnel on campus, especially the Soshanguve campuses,” he said.
Students leave the TUT south campus in Soshanguve with their bags and they say it’s for their own safety. Picture:Bongani Shilubane