As the ‘Sizofunda Ngenkani’ campaign by the Economic Freedom Fighters Students Command is on at the Durban University of Technology, academic activities were disrupted early on Monday when students started demonstrating, in a quest to submit a memorandum to the Vice Chancellor’s office; a move that saw police using teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, EFFsc says.
On July 15 the EFFSC led student representative council (SRC) started a campaign aimed at assisting students with registration and accommodation before the semester began. However, Monday marked the second week since the campaign started running; but a number of students were still in the dark about their registration as they have to appeal their cases to the National Student Funding Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
According to the chairperson of the SRC Khanyisani Khambule, the key to resolving their issues lies with the management.
“This is not the first time we are raising these issues and the only people who can help us resolve them is the management. We started this campaign because we wanted to identify what the issues are and present them to them without resorting to rioting, but they are still failing to resolve them.
“We have many returning students who are having funding issues but were funded last semester, and it’s the management’s prerogative to communicate directly with NSFAS and have these issues resolved,” he said.
Meanwhile the SRC at DUT says it is doing all it can to resolve recurrent student issues, the major issue of financial exclusion continues; and according to the SRC this is due to management’s failure to meet them halfway.
“Students have been financially excluded, they should appeal to NSFAS. Management is the only key to resolving this because they have all the means to. They have direct contact with all the necessary parties but they are not doing anything, until students get affected and then we take to the streets,” Khambule said.
Hooliganism and radicalism
Since EFFsc took over SRC in many campuses across the country, the organisation has been labelled and associated with hooliganism; something Khambule believes it’s radicalism and the only language institutions understand.
“We have been called all kinds of names but we remain undeterred. The reason for all this hate against EFFsc is the fact that we always take the side of the poor. We are no stooges and do not want to look good in the eyes of management while sabotaging our fellow poor students,” he said.
At DUT alone, many EFFsc students including the SRC president Sesiyanda Godlimpi, are facing disciplinary hearing following allegations of intimidation and assault in May.
Khambule says the hearing is scheduled for Tuesday July 23.
Aside from dealing with current issues, EFFsc will hold a march on August 05, to the Durban City Hall calling for the national prosecuting authority (NPA) to overturn its decision on the Mlungisi Madonsela killing case.
“We need justice for Mlungisi Madonsela. The march is to intensify the campaign as we call for the NPA to prosecute people who killed him. It doesn’t make sense that a person can die but no one is held accountable, so that’s why we are organising a march,” Khambule said.
Disruption of classes
On Tuesday, commencement of classes was due to take place but students started mobilising from ML Sultan Campus, making their way to Steve Biko Campus; where the crowd was dispersed by police.
“We wanted to submit a memorandum of our demands to the vice chancellor’s office but that did not materialise due to police intervention. We started from ML Sultan where we brought everything to a standstill and then moved on to Ritson and Steve Biko campus, unfortunately police were already there when we arrived.
“There was a clash so they started throwing teargas and rubber bullets started flying, and students dispersed. But we will by all means to get the memorandum into the management’s hands and then wait for their response; that’s when we will know the way forward,” Khambule said.
Management at DUT has expressed its disappointment over student’s action of taking to the streets while classes were due to resume.
Senior director of corporate affairs Alan Khan said in a statement: “The Management team at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) is extremely disappointed that the student protestors disrupted classes and intimidated non-protesting students and staff on some of its Durban campuses today, Monday, 22 July 2019. Whilst DUT respects the right to protest, the University urges the protestors to also respect the rights of non-protesting students and members of staff.
“The University, through its Student Services Division, has been continuously engaging with the Student Representative Council (SRC) on a number of issues that they have raised. During a meeting between the SRC and the Dean of Students last Thursday, 18 July 2019, consensus was reached on a number of issues. This meeting also created a platform for constructive engagement between Management and the SRC,” he said.
Khan said further that Dean of students will be meeting with the SRC on Monday Afternoon to provide them with feedback and continue with the engagements from the previous week.
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