Chaos at University of KwaZulu-Natal
Students burn furniture and appliances in protest over accommodation
Students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Westville Campus took to the streets again on Friday to protest over the poor conditions of their residences, a lack of transport, failure to receive their NSFAS funding, and poor Wifi connection on campus.
A student boycott of classes began early this week and led to the suspension of the academic programme. According to university management, classes were suspended in an effort to restore calm and ensure safety of students and staff.
The university re-opened on Friday, but soon classes were disrupted after protests broke out. The campus was left littered with bottles, rocks, toilets, and furniture and appliances. Students set fire to the litter, appliances and furniture. Water cannons were used to disperse them. Students retaliated by throwing stones.
Police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala said, “The students gathered at the campus where they threw bottles at police officers, also blocking the access road at the university with furniture. So far, 17 students have been arrested for public violence.”
A heavy campus security and SAPS presence is now on site. Clearing of the road has also begun.
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Of course, the finger pointing and blame game continue, but the fact is that tertiary education remains under threat.
Whether it's the Fallist thugs and hooligans (and their enablers) and their language of poisonous, racist identity politics, the breathtaking incompetence of NSFAS, or the demonstrated inability of many universities' senior leadership to navigate the frequently unnavigable rapids of unreasonable or unattainable demands, the future of higher education in South Africa appears dire.
The future of South Africa, the most industrialized country on the continent, is bound to the future of higher education, and will not survive what appears to be the imminent demise of higher education, in the commonly understood sense of the term, no matter how "colonial" or "eurocentric" or "northern hemispheric" many view the term.