Students and Lecturers at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University were barred entry by protesting SRC and Nehawu representatives. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)
Pretoria - Students and staff are within their rights to protest, but they should do so within the confines of their relevant codes of conduct.

This is the reaction of higher education, science and technology minister Blade Nzimande to the ongoing protest at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.

The management of the university was confident that, come Monday, disruptions would be a thing of the past and classes could continue.

For the fourth consecutive day on Friday, the gates of the university in Pretoria North remained closed, strewn with debris left by protesting students and staff members affiliated to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu).

Protests began on Monday, barring access to the university.

This left students and staff stranded outside and none the wiser about what the protests were about.

Student Representative Council (SRC) president Innocent Chauke and staff under the union refused to give statements or speak to any media regarding their issues, saying they would do so when they were finished with discussions.

Nzimande condemned the disruptions of academic activities.

“This protest not only affects the university, but also the adjacent Dr George Mukhari Hospital and Dental Hospital, and other healthcare delivery facilities situated on the campus,” warned Nzimande.

He said the continuation of the protest would also affect students severely, with the possibilities of the 2019 academic year being extended to the 2020 academic year.

University spokesperson Dr Eric Pule said they were hoping to resume activities on Monday.

Pule said the university council had elected members from the SRC and Nehawu to form a task team to sit with the council and resolve the issue.

“Everything must be resolved come Monday, so that staff and students can get on with the academic calendar so we can finish on time for the year.”

And to ensure all parties understood their roles and rights, Nzimande indicated he had directed the university branch of the department to work closely with the university with his office to monitor the situation moving forward.

“Government supports a healthy, safe and habitual post school education environment, which encourages productivity for both labour and students,” said Nzimande.

Pretoria News