Chaos erupts at WSU
Walter Sisulu University student leaders and security guards clashed at the Ibika campus on Saturday.
The security guards were evicting students who had occupied the campus residence without permission. During the scuffle, SRC president Lihle Klaas and another student sustained minor injuries.
The impasse at the Butterworth campus came after more than 100 students who had come either to apply to write special examinations or collect their academic records, occupied some residences.
Klaas claimed they had negotiated with management for students to be on campus because of registration.
“They agreed, but we were surprised when they [students] were chased away,” he said.
On Saturday, they spent about four hours outside the campus until just before 10pm when the student leaders eventually found accommodation at community halls.
In video footage that has been shared widely, security guards can be seen chasing the students from university premises. Another video shows a heated argument where a guard threatens to shoot, with students arming themselves with sticks in retaliation.
Police were called in to quell the tensions.
In a statement on the campus’ Facebook page, Klaas said the deployment of armed security guards on campus was a deliberate attempt by the university to harass students.
“Most of these students do not have relatives around here and campus accommodation is the only option,” he said.
University spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said towards the end of the academic year of 2018, the university issued notices to all students informing them that they should not return to the university prior to registration.
She said upon registration, students are then allocated rooms.
“A room cannot be allocated prior to a student registering. With limited accommodation, not all students qualify for accommodation and some do not return to the university for a number of reasons,” Tukwayo said.
“We have in the past had incidences of non-registered people occupying rooms that are meant for registered students.”
She said some maintenance work and fumigation takes place in January and having students occupy residences ahead of schedule interferes with these operations.
Tukwayo said the only students authorised to be in residences are SRC members who need to prepare for the arrival of students on January 21.
“We also have certain groups of students who perform functions at the university, who are also authorised to occupy residence rooms. These rooms that are available for working students were prepared prior to the year-end closure.”
She said the university should not be incurring water, cleaning and electricity costs as a result of students returning much earlier than they should.
CAUSING AN UPROAR: Students evicted from Ibika campus in Butterworth after illegally occupying residences.