30 August 2013

South Africa: WSU Situation Volatile - DA Youth

Photo: SABC
Walter Sisulu University.

Johannesburg — The situation at the Walter Sisulu University (WSU), in the Eastern Cape, is becoming increasingly volatile following the use of teargas on evicted students, the DA Youth said on Thursday.

"The DA Youth condemns the use of tear gas by police officers to disperse these protests," its leader Mbali Ntuli said in a statement.

Students were told to leave the university, its residences and rented accommodation because of labour trouble, administrator Lourens van Staden said on Tuesday.

He said the labour deadlock had dragged on for five weeks.

Mbali said Democratic Alliance Students' Organisation members at the university had recorded footage of a police officer using a teargas grenade to disperse students protesting peacefully at the university's East London campus.

"Students were protesting against the shutdown of WSU for these past five weeks and the forced eviction of students from WSU's four campuses," she said.

"Because WSU is essentially bankrupt, students are being forcefully evicted off campus, with a deadline for all students to be off-campus by tomorrow [Friday]."

Higher education director general Gwebs Qonde said earlier on Thursday that WSU remained technically and commercially bankrupt.

Mbali said the situation at WSU was a disgrace.

"Many of the students have to travel long distances to get back home, and have no money to do so," she said.

"Neither WSU nor the higher education department has said anything about reimbursing students for the travelling, alternative accommodation or the potentially lost academic year."

With many of the students being poor, they simply could not afford this.

Mbali said the situation was being exacerbated by the police's unnecessary overreaction and the university management's unfair decision to evict students.

"We want a good, fair deal for both the workers and the students," she said.

"Ultimately, this is about fixing the financial mess at WSU, and ensuring the ongoing viability of the university. Forcefully evicting the students is not an option."

Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala said she was not aware of teargas being used at the university.

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