North West University exco targets ‘outside interests’ in protest probe
The “role played by non-students and outside interests” seem to be of most concern to North-West University’s (NWU) executive committee (exco).
The exco said in a statement that it “intends to obtain full information regarding the sequence of events that gave rise to the eventual sad and disturbing state of affairs which occurred at the Mafikeng Campus”.
Aside from the external influences “in the instigation of the violence and vandalism”‚ it will seek answers on “the role of campus security‚ and the steps taken by campus management‚ in general‚ to monitor and manage the situation”.
The campus is expected to be closed for at least a month as management called a halt to operations and advised students “to leave the campus immediately for their own safety” after buildings were gutted this week.
“Recent developments have put considerable strain on the institutional management as well as the respective campus managements of the NWU,” the exco’s statement read.
“Exco wishes to express its continued support to all spheres of management at the NWU. Exco has full confidence in the ability of management‚ under the leadership of the vice-chancellor‚ Professor Dan Kgwadi‚ to effectively and wisely deal with the situation.”
Kgwadi’s name was mentioned by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – who have been widely blamed for the protests that turned violent - in its statement earlier this week.
Spokseperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party was aware that “Kgwadi has pronounced his affiliation to the African National Congress and said he will never allow the campus to be led by an EFF” Student Representative Council.
Wednesday’s violence and vandalism started after members of the EFF’s Student Command disrupted the inauguration of the newly appointed SRC.
An NWU statement said: “The initial demonstrations started outside the Great Hall‚ after which they proceeded inside‚ and disrupted the event by singing and shouting while speakers were addressing the students”.
The university claimed that the “temporary-suspended” SRC president‚ Benz Mabengwane – an who is an EFFSC president – “arrived on campus and addressed a group of students”.
“Security deployed on campus then dispersed the crowd‚ which led to clashes between them and students.
“Security had to use teargas and rubber bullets to get the situation under control. The students were pelting security with stones‚ which led to further reactions by them.”
Clashes‚ looting and arson ensued.