Protest dam­age to cam­puses rock­ets to

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

The trust deficit be­tween univer­sity stu­dents and their vice-chan­cel­lors con­tin­ues to deepen de­spite South Africa ob­serv­ing 40 years since the 1976 Soweto youth upris­ing.

Stu­dents protested against fee in­creases and in­suf­fi­cient stu­dent fund­ing mech­a­nisms at ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions last year and early this year, and caused se­ri­ous dam­age to in­fra­struc­ture.

This week, Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande re­vealed to the Na­tional Assem­bly that the cost of dam­age to prop­erty dur­ing stu­dent protests since Oc­to­ber stands at about R460 mil­lion.

Lwazi Pakade of Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity said: “We ac­knowl­edge the dam­ages, but all of th­ese things would not have hap­pened if we were lis­tened to in the first place. This hap­pened be­cause we were frus­trated, just like with the [the 1976 gen­er­a­tion].”

Pakade is one of sev­eral stu­dents who were in­volved in protest ac­tion that is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the univer­sity and faces sus­pen­sion or ex­pul­sion.

Wits Univer­sity and the Univer­sity of Cape Town are two of the other in­sti­tu­tions that have in re­cent weeks handed down sus­pen­sions or ex­pul­sions to stu­dents for their role in the protests.

Stu­dents are now call­ing on Nz­i­mande to in­ter­vene on their be­half, ar­gu­ing that they do not trust uni­ver­si­ties to hand down fair pun­ish­ment.

Seth Maz­ibuko, who was one of the lead­ers of the 1976 stu­dent upris­ing, told City Press this week that the way uni­ver­si­ties were deal­ing with stu­dents to­day was un­for­tu­nately a copy of an “apartheid” ap­proach.

“So, those stu­dents must be kicked out and handed over to nyaope [drugs]? Hand them over if you want to, hand them over to blessers and to pros­ti­tu­tion. Is it be­cause they’re black? Are they dis­turb­ing the cap­i­tal­ist class, so they must be taken out?”

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