Wed, 23 Oct 2019

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) said its full academic programme will resume on Wednesday following student protests over safety at the university.

Earlier this month, DUT student Mlungisi Madonsela was shot and killed by the university's security company, News24 reported.

Another student, Sandile Ndlovu, is fighting for his life after being stabbed in the head in a lecture room at the university during the same month.

Two meetings were held this week between the university and SRC in which an agreement could not be reached.

"The SRC tabled its concerns about the safety of students on campus and in residence. It also demanded that the university remove Excellent Security, which is the contracted private security provider on campus," it said.

The university urged the SRC to give it time to complete a procurement process, which is already underway, for the appointment of new security services.

"The university must follow strict tender and procurement guidelines and DUT cannot intentionally violate that process," the institution said, adding the winning bidder would be announced at the end of October.

"However, the SRC threatened it will not allow lectures to resume and demanded that the university shut down, close the residences and stop services to students until Excellent Security has been removed. This demand has serious implications for the more than 34 000 DUT students, our staff and stakeholders," the university said.

Working with the police

Following the meeting with the SRC, another joint meeting with the executive management committee and executive committee of senate was organised to consider "the demands of the SRC and the impact on all students and staff of our university".

Following the meeting, the two committees "agreed that suspending the academic programme any longer will compromise our students, especially considering that a majority of students are busy with tests and assessments".

"We are also working toward the final examinations, which will commence in a few weeks. Therefore, DUT will be resuming the full academic programme on all campuses tomorrow, Wednesday, September 18, 2019.

"The university has a valid court interdict and the police will enforce the orders of the High Court."

Third force

DUT further explained in its statement an acknowledgement that there existed "internal and external groups with hidden agendas and vested interests who are helping to destabilise the university".

This follows a petrol bomb attack at the university that damaged squash courts on one of its campuses on Monday.

"The university urges the protesters to remain peaceful, to respect the law and to value university property, which ultimately serves the students and staff.

"The university advises the SRC and protesting students to act within the confines of the law and respect the rights of students who want to study and not intimidate members of staff who want to teach and keep the campuses and residences operational."

Two students dead

In the statement, DUT addressed rumours regarding the investigation into Ndlovu's stabbing.

"Contrary to some media reports and social media claims, DUT has been co-operating with the police investigation into the incident involving Mr Ndlovu. DUT has given the police access to the CCTV footage," the university said.

However, it showed no footage of the actual attack on Ndlovu.

The university, the statement said, had been through "a very traumatic time in the last eight days following the attack against our student Mr Sandile Ndlovu and then, the death of another student in residence two days later.

"We have been engaging with the loved ones of both students and their families have kindly accepted our offers of assistance."

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