Student protests halt lectures at South African universities

Student safety and funding are key concerns for Vaal and UKZN undergraduates

September 23, 2015
Loudhailer

Classes at two South African universities were halted by student demonstrations.

Students at Vaal University of Technology in Vanderbijlpark deserted lectures on 14 September in protest at the rape and murder of two female overseas students – a Zimbabwean and a Nigerian – at a house off-campus.

Troy Mathebula, president of Vaal’s student representative council, told the Mail & Guardian that his members were campaigning for “basic” security to be provided such as CCTV cameras and biometric fingerprint access controls for university premises.

The protest followed the murder of another two female students and the rape of a female student on campus last year. Earlier this year, a male student was murdered just outside the main campus.

The university said that it would act on students’ concerns, with a spokeswoman stating that Vaal was “committed to the safety and security” of staff and students.

In a separate incident at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, lectures were suspended after students burned cars and petrol-bombed an office in protest at student funding changes.

The violence erupted at the institution’s Westville campus on 13 September and spread to other sites in the following days.

Upping of the minimum average mark required for students to qualify for financial support and a planned increase in a registration fee were said to be behind the demonstrations.

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

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