Several university campuses in the Eastern Cape were disrupted during student protests this week.

In Gqeberha, protesting students blocked the entrance of the Nelson Mandela University’s main campus in Summerstrand on Wednesday, 15 April. Students also protested at three of the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) campuses, threatening staff and destroying property.

CLOSURE OF WSU BUTTERWORTH CAMPUS

In a statement this week, Walter Sisulu University confirmed that student protest action has damaged university property and disrupted classes at its campuses in Buffalo City, Butterworth and Mthatha.

Professor Rushiella Songca, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of Walter Sisulu University, announced that the WSU Butterworth Campus will be closed from today, 15 April.

URGENT: CLOSURE OF THE BUTTERWORTH CAMPUSDear WSU Community,Some of you are aware of the various engagements between…

Posted by Walter Sisulu University on Thursday, April 15, 2021

“The proactive stance taken by management and the ISRC has resulted in many issues being resolved and the remaining receiving urgent attention. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, some students and/or political formations have taken the unfortunate decision to embark on disruptions resulting in the University’s property being damaged and the lives of WSU staff and students being threatened, she said.

“We want to state upfront that students have the right to exercise their rights and express their grievances, but that cannot be done at the expense of others’ rights or the destruction of University property and reputation.”

She added that due to these circumstances management has decided to close the Butterworth Campus until further notice. Students were asked to vacate both the WSU and private residences by 15:00 this afternoon, 15 April 2021.

“In addition, management will put interventions in place to ensure the safety of its staff and property,” said Songca.

MEMORANDUM HANDED IN AT STUDENT PROTESTS

The Buffalo City and Butterworth Campus student bodies handed over a memorandum with their grievance over a number of issues including;

  • admissions
  • registration
  • financial exclusion (special cases),
  • academic incorrect results,
  • NSFAS allowances (food and book allowances)
  •  transport allowances,
  •  certificates and accommodation.

WSU Student Representative Council (SRC) president Vuyo Langeni told the SABC: “We want to go to class and therefore, our timeframes can’t be long. We went to strike on Monday, and saying ‘answer (us) by Friday, come to the negotiating table and give us something we can work with. Allow students to register by Friday. If you do not do that, we will declare an institutional shutdown, the whole of WSU will not operate.”

Spokesperson for Nelson Mandela University, Zandile Mbambela, told the SABC they are engaging with student leadership to find a solution.

“As the University, we have been working to address these through constant engagement with the SRC and other student formation where we try to deal with these issues as they arise to the best of our ability. As you know, some of these issues that are raised fall beyond the university’s ambit, falling with NSFAS, which we are in constant liaison with as well as the university.”

READ: Student protests: Damages cost SA universities over R32 million

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Presh JM Reporter

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