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Wed May 25 20:51:39 SAST 2016

Respected judge and Mandela Foundation offer to mediate to end university violence

TMG Digital | 26 February, 2016 15:53
File photo of Yvonne Mokgoro.
Image by: Gallo Images / Beeld / Denzil Maregele

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is offering independent mediation‚ conflict resolution and facilitation services to South Africa's universities and student movements to help halt the current violent protest that is stalling the academic year at multiple campuses.

"Student unrest at universities has reached untenable levels; the tensions have led to violence as well as a number of assaults‚" the foundation said in a statement on Friday.

"We are at a crisis point and have to act now.

"As a result‚ a group of like-minded active citizens have joined forces to offer independent mediation‚ conflict resolution and facilitation services to the universities and student movements that request it."

This help will be provided under the name #AccessThuto‚ meaning 'access education'. #AccessThuto is led by former Constitutional Court judge and chairperson of the Social Cohesion Reference Group Yvonne Mokgoro‚ CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Sello Hatang‚ and Neeshan Balton‚ CEO of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

The Mandela foundation said #AccessThuto will seek to listen to students‚ academic staff and management at universities to help neutralise the conflict currently experienced at universities. "It will use a network of organisations and individuals to provide professional‚ independent and non-partisan help to the university community as it grapples with difficult issues of transformation."

#AccessThuto will work with all stakeholders‚ including students‚ families‚ university management and the government.

A number of pressing issues have already been identified – managing violence‚ leadership‚ transformation‚ the role of parents‚ peace-building and justice‚ and the management of dialogue – that must be addressed in order to find sustainable solutions to the ongoing crisis.

“We have now reached a crisis point that compels us to act to help neutralise what is happening at universities. I urge students‚ management and rectors to show restraint and use our services to curb the levels of conflict. We have a long history of constructive dialogue which we are committed to help facilitate‚” says justice Mokgoro. The foundation said #AccessThuto would not attempt to replace current institutional measures by the government and the universities‚ but aimed to provide additional support services‚ in particular when there is a deadlock between parties.

"We call on all sectors of society‚ including business and civil society‚ to assist in overcoming this impasse."

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