DUT suspends classes following protest action

Police at Gate 4 Steve Biko campus

The Durban University of Technology has suspended lectures until Monday following a student protest on Tuesday.

The protest was prompted by numerous issues from the previous semester, including funding, registration and accommodation. According to the student representative council (SRC), nearly 2 000 students who are NSFAS beneficiaries are still without accommodation this semester.

Hundreds of students at the institution marched to the vice-chancellor’s office to hand over a memorandum. The picket, which was organised by the SRC, started at the ML Sultan campus and travelled to the Steve Biko campus, where SRC members addressed students.

Addressing students, the SRC deputy general secretary Mbuso Sithole said that, “the university had to deal with all the issues without affecting students.”

He added that all the SRC wants are funding, and accommodation packages for the funded students.

“The fact that people qualify for NSFAS clearly indicates that they are poor and cannot afford private accommodation. So we want everyone who is on NSFAS allocated with immediate effect,” he said.

On the memorandum, the SRC highlighted numerous issues, including demands that students who are not yet registered for the semester be given temporary accommodation.

However, while receiving the memorandum, Professor Thandwa Mthembu said that he wasn’t aware of all the issues it outlined.

The university said in a statement that lectures have been suspended for three days while executive management addresses the matters raised by students.

“We have agreed, in consultation with the SRC, to continue with registration, to keep the Finance and Financial Aid Offices open, to assist our students with their registration processes,” it said.

The university also said that university-owned residences could only provide temporary accommodation until 2 August 2017, and that it was now engaging with outsourced residences around the possibility of housing these students.