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Sun Sep 25 14:17:34 CAT 2016

Scramble for solutions

TIMES REPORTERS | 23 September, 2016 06:35
GONE: Fort Hare's Equicent building.
Image by: SILUSAPHO NYANDA

The University of KwaZulu-Natal is considering a proposal to extend its academic programme to next year, a delay that could have widespread ramifications for current students.

This as academics, parents and concerned students plan a crisis talks meeting at the University of Johannesburg tomorrow as the nationwide fees protests enter their fifth day.

Yesterday saw more property damaged, with a building torched at Fort Hare in Alice in the Eastern Cape.

The UKZN academic recovery proposal, which is being discussed with academics and students today, comes as the year was suspended at its Pietermaritzburg campus after a student was shot in the arm during running battles between police and students yesterday.

Rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas were fired at students, who were throwing rocks at officers.

The academic programme at UKZN has been disrupted since the middle of last month following protests at campuses over a number of issues, including fees, complaints about accommodation, alleged security and police brutality, as well as infighting among student bodies.

The university campus had reopened on Tuesday.

UKZN spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the plan was aimed at looking at ways to make up for lost time and extended to the end of December.

"However, should the students continue with the way they are doing for another week it is likely that our plan would have to be extended to next year.

"It will have serious implications if we do go into next year. That is what happens when students bring a bag of rocks instead of a bag of books," Seshoka said.

At Fort Hare the Equicent Infrastructure Development building was razed. It contained equipment, electric appliances and working tools worth millions.

Among the items that were destroyed were about 20 flat-screen television sets meant to be distributed to student residences.

Also torched were washing machines, computers, microwaves, chairs, stoves, beds, mattresses, cupboards and maintenance tools.

Equicent is the company contracted by the university to construct its R400-million 200-bed student village. It is also responsible for refurbishing and maintenance of the existing student residences and other university buildings.

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