14 February 2017

South Africa: Vice-Chancellor Threatens to Shut Down Walter Sisulu University Campus

Rob Midgley says agreement must be be reached on Tuesday with SRC

In a statement issued by Walter Sisulu University on Monday, the vice-chancellor and Principal, Professor Rob Midgley, said that if an agreement between Buffalo City Campus students and management is not reached by Tuesday in a last resort meeting, he will have no choice but to close the campus and send students home.

Midgley said, "Management had been in frequent discussions with the SRC and every time we think we have an agreement, the SRC comes up with a new demand."

Registration was stopped and academic activities have been shut down for weeks during student protests and stayaways.

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Some students accuse the SRC of pushing its own agenda. A student, who asked not to be named, told GroundUp, "None of the first year students have complained to them [SRC]. We were here registering when they [SRC] closed the campus, ordering us to leave. If we all had a problem, then we were not going to be here to register."

The SRC has hit back, posting on Facebook: "We are quite disappointed by all of you while we are busy fighting for you to access the system free you are busy swearing at us and telling us about how you want to register."

The post, signed 'President L.Mgobo; Secretary S. Funda' states: "But it came to our surprise that students became selfish to themselves ... We also wish to strongly condemn the tendency displayed by a group of continuing students who are referring to themselves as 'concerned students' on social media platforms."

It concludes that after taking the student views into consideration, "the SRC we decided to open the registration as of tomorrow 14 February 2017".

SRC president Sinelizwi Mantangayi said agreement had been reached with management on some of their issues.

Problems at Mthatha campus

On Monday, WSU spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said the past two weeks have seen registration of students disrupted by student protests and 'all academic activity at the Nelson Mandela Drive (NMD) [in Mthatha] campus, were severely compromised'.

The protest turned violent last week, after students set alight a building called the 'pink house', which students claim is a bar for university staff, and management claim is the university's recreational building.

Students were then evicted from the campus.

NMD president Sinelizwi Mantangayi said some students were let back to campus over the weekend following a meeting with management. However, students without student cards and proof of registration were not allowed on campus.

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