Universities SA condemns arson attacks at KwaZulu-Natal varsities
Universities SA (USAf) has condemned the arson attacks at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the University of Zululand‚ adding it is deeply concerned about the continuing instability and disruptions to the academic programme due to student-led demonstrations. In the past 24 hours‚ two buildings were torched at UKZN; a coffee shop on Howard College campus on Tuesday night and an examination hall in the early hours of Wednesday morning at the Pietermaritzburg campus. At UNIZULU’s KwaDlangezwa Campus‚ a university truck was torched. Both universities and the university sector as a whole had suffered enormous losses‚ USAf said. “According to a report received from the UKZN‚ students ran amok when the university’s leadership stood firmly against the demands of certain students for the SRC to sit on the University’s Executive Management Committee and that all criminal charges against students‚ including those related to damage to infrastructure and arson‚ be dropped.“All hell broke loose when a representative of Council – who engaged the students on their request -- could not accede to these demands‚ and when their request for a special Council sitting was turned down in recognition of an ordinary sitting of Council already set for September 19‚” USAf said. “We’re witnessing the worst forms of anarchic activity at some of our institutions‚ and this is deeply disturbing‚” said USAf CEO‚ Professor Ahmed Bawa‚ also referring to recent acts of violence seen at the Walter Sisulu University.“Students have lost all respect for civil engagement. They have taken to making demands and demonstrate no preparedness to listen to other voices and dare I say‚ often other voices of reason.”Bawa said it was particularly disconcerting that students expressing discontent over various matters choose to destroy the infrastructure developed to emancipate the poor from poverty.