Student protests caused over R20-million property damage at TUT since 2014
Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) will use the month during which the Soshanguve North and South campuses will be shut to beef up security at the campuses to keep out a rowdy group stirring violence at the institution.
Vice Chancellor Professor Lourens van Staden told journalists at the university's main campus in Pretoria West on Thursday that they will work to repair the perimeter fencing broken down during the two week protest and erect another at residences for access control.
He said violence at the institution that has been raging for the past two years‚ costing the university in excess of R20-million in damaged property was being stirred by former students who had nothing to lose.
Van Staden said politics were at play and fanning the student protest‚ with the rowdy group spreading misinformation to whip up emotions.
“There is no financial exclusion at this institution. Students are required to pay the R1‚500 registration fee upfront and then make arrangements to pay their outstanding debt over a period of time‚” he said.
He said there were also assaults on other students on campus and that the names of those responsible would be handed to the police‚ saying “their absence on campus will make a difference”.
Van Staden said the porous perimeter fencing was one of the main reasons for shutting the Soshanguve South and North campuses on Tuesday‚ saying they could not ensure the safety of students and staff with no access control.
"The greatest fear is loss of life. We are secondary parents here and how do I look a parent (in the face) when a student dies on campus? The decision to close the campus was taken with that in mind‚" he said.
Professor Stanley Mukhola‚ deputy vice-chancellor responsible for teaching‚ learning and technology said to keep the protests going‚ the rowdy group spread lies about financial exclusion and made unrealistic demands like forcing the university to enrol students that were not academically deserving or for the Soshanguve campus to de-merge from TUT.
“We have responded to each and every issue students have raised‚ except for one or two issues that are unrealistic. There are political issues at play‚ with individuals hi-jacking student issues‚” he said.
A town hall meeting has been planned for this month where the university will discuss the Soshanguve campus impasse with parents‚ students and other stakeholders.
Students have described studying at the violent campus as scary‚ stressful and detrimental to their future chances of employment.