Bishops call for honest attempts to end student violence

07 March 2016 - 20:46 By TMG Digital
Students from the University of Pretoria gather in numbers outside the main University entrance to pray for a solution to the ongoing standoff between race and language issues that the tertiary institution is currently facing.
Students from the University of Pretoria gather in numbers outside the main University entrance to pray for a solution to the ongoing standoff between race and language issues that the tertiary institution is currently facing.
Image: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

The conference’s Justice and Peace Commission released a statement yesterday calling for church leaders “to be included in mediating campus deadlocks”.

Bishop Gabuza‚ Chairperson of the Justice and Peace Commission‚ said: “As the Church we firmly support the campaign of the students to end financial barriers to accessing and completing higher learning and other equity-related concerns. However‚ the escalation of campus violence and vandalism is playing into the hands of those who seek to discredit the legitimacy of this important campaign.”

The Commission also said that government and university leadership “have not been proactive enough in addressing issues raised by the students”

“They have not done enough to promote an environment that enables open and honest dialogue to happen. We call for honest dialogue on the issues raised by the students at various campuses.

“Honest dialogue includes being clear and transparent to the students about the time-frames by which the university and the government would address student concerns‚ including calls for tuition-free higher education. Honest dialogue includes having clear policies about transformation of our universities to end racism and colonial models of being a university.”

It called on the government to include church leaders in mediation processes.

“We call upon the government‚ university leadership‚ political parties and Church leaders to sit around the table and address the issues at various academic institutions that are marked by campus violence.”

The commission called on political parties and their youth wings “to show greater ethical leadership in relation to the current crisis in tertiary education”.

“Political parties are a part of the problem when it comes to campus violence. They can also be a part of the solution. Political parties should make a commitment to refrain from discourses that discourage honest dialogue and fuel campus violence‚” said Gabuza.

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