hefma logo

Protests cost R1.4 million

Institutions of higher learning are considering tougher measures which include a policy review to deal with violent protests on campuses.

In a recent written response to parliament, Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande said this year alone damage to university property was over R1.4-million.

The figure does not include all 25 universities, as 10 of them had not provided the information.

Jeffrey Mabelebele, CEO of vice-chancellors association Higher Education SA, told Sowetan universities needed to consider a protest policy.

He said the association, the department, South African Union of Students and University Council Chairs Forum South Africa recently held a meeting where such a policy was discussed.

"The protest policy should set broad guidelines and also stipulate processes that must be followed before engaging in a protest," he said.

Director-general of the Department of Higher Education and Training Gwebs Qonde told Sowetan institutions needed to take action including laying criminal charges against students found to have damaged property and even expel them.

The damage for further education and training (FET) colleges went from nothing in 1994 to over R3-million last year.

The country has witnessed violent protests at colleges and universities in recent years which are largely related to lack of funding by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Last month 18 cars and a bus were set alight at the Tshwane University of Technology during a protest related to NSFAS.

Five bakkies and the entrance of the Medical University of South Africa were burnt during a protest. The university estimated the damage at R1.5-million.

University of Cape Town, Wits and Stellebosch University indicated they had not had damages to property between 2005 and this year.

However, in the same period the University of Fort Hare suffered damages amounting to R1.2-million, the University of Free State took a knock of R885268 and the University of KwaZulu-Natal had R756497 in damages.

Coastal KZN FET College topped the list with damages of R2.6-million. It was closely followed by Umngungundlove FET with total costs amounting to R2.5-million.

Powered by GO Better Publishing