Violence Erupts During UKZN Protest as Educational Building Goes Up in Flames.A peaceful protest at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) took a violent turn, resulting in the incendiary destruction of an educational facility within the university premises.
Violence Erupts During UKZN Protest as Educational Building Goes Up in Flames
The Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, has vehemently denounced the protest and has called upon relevant parties to take swift action in response.
Minister Nzimande Condemns Arson and Violence Directed at UKZN
Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, has issued a strong condemnation regarding the recent outbreak of arson, intimidation, harassment, and violence targeted at both the staff and students of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
Willful Destruction at UKZN Linked to Ongoing Student Protests
The Pietermaritzburg Campus of UKZN witnessed a series of violent protests that culminated in the deliberate incineration of the William O’Brien examination venue. Minister Nzimande has linked these destructive incidents to the ongoing student protests taking place at the university.
Minister’s Perspective on Arson
Minister Nzimande expressed deep concern over categorizing the wanton destruction of an educational institution as a form of ‘protest,’ asserting that this act not only diminishes the true meaning of the word but also disregards the long-term societal harm inflicted by a small faction driven by self-serving motives.
Criminality Condemned and Culprits Pursued
The Minister categorizes the protests as outright criminal acts and has called for the identification, public denouncement, and apprehension of those responsible, irrespective of their affiliations. The South African Police Service (SAPS) has already been informed, with a public violence case filed.
Appeal to UKZN Student Representative Council (SRC)
Minister Nzimande has urged the UKZN Student Representative Council (SRC) to strongly denounce these violent acts and actively collaborate with the university’s administration and law enforcement agencies to ascertain the identities of those accountable.
Accountability for Student Perpetrators
In the event that students are found to be the culprits behind these criminal actions, the Minister insists they should be subjected to the university’s internal disciplinary procedures. The acts of arson, vandalism, and intimidation are viewed as counterproductive to genuine forms of protest and should be universally condemned.
Underlying Causes of UKZN Protest
Minister Nzimande points out that since the commencement of the 2023 academic year, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) student command has been involved in attempts to disrupt the functioning of UKZN. This student union has been linked to violent incidents, property damage, and attacks on university stakeholders.
Issues with NSFAS Allowance Payment System
The recent surge in protests is believed to be related to the dissatisfaction arising from the newly introduced National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allowance payment system. Students from various universities have expressed discontent with the direct payment system, citing a range of challenges.
Government’s Involvement in Addressing Concerns
Minister Nzimande clarifies that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), along with NSFAS and service provider Tenetech, have been in constant communication with UKZN to tackle the issues surrounding the payment system. Students are encouraged to participate in the system and voice their concerns for prompt resolution.
NSFAS Eligibility Criteria and 60-Course Credit Policy Scrutinized
Minister Nzimande also addresses concerns about the eligibility criteria and the 60-course credit policy introduced by NSFAS in 2023. This policy renders students enrolled in courses with fewer than 60 credits ineligible for accommodation, living, and transportation allowances, thereby making them financially responsible for these aspects.
Support for Affected Students
To assist students affected by the 60-course credit policy, provisions like food parcels and personal care items have been provided. Stakeholders have allocated substantial funds to aid these students. Just yesterday, the university allocated a substantial amount from external sources, totaling R1.021 million, for its food security initiative.
Ministerial Intervention in Policy Implementation
Minister Nzimande emphasizes that the challenges have been escalated to NSFAS due to the implementation of policies imposed by the organization itself.
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