Protests at Rhodes University and the University of Natal

April 19, 1996

* Rhodes University and the University of Natal have been hit by mass protests with students angered by, among other issues, alleged mistreatment by staff.

At Rhodes University, 168 students and workers were arrested as students demanded the dismissal of dean of students Moosa Motara, whom they claim is "insensitive" and not straightforward.

Rhodes registrar Steve Fouhe told newspapers that the university would not comply with the demand for the dismissal of Dr Motara - who denies the student allegations - until evidence of the claims against him had been furnished.

At the University of Natal, about 400 students and workers marched on the administration building on April 3 in protest against alleged racism in several faculties, high failure rates and lack of resources.

The marchers disrupted lectures, slightly damaged property, and two white students were assaulted after allegedly provoking the protesters.

Sasco spokesman Samuel Thobakgale said that students were angry about the high failure rate of African students, which was the result of poor lecturing. Sasco also claims that African surnames disadvantage black students in the marking process.

Students said that they were also frustrated by lack of accommodation and overcrowding in lecture halls, while workers were unhappy with ineffective affirmative action policies and labour procedures.

The university said that student demands had been presented to them earlier this year and were in the process of being addressed. Acting principal of the Durban campus John Volmink said that while the university did not deny that there might be cases of racism it had asked students to provide evidence but that had not been done.

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