17 July 2017

South Africa: Three National Ministers Fail to Pitch at Summit

Photo: Ashleigh Furlong/GroundUp
Minister for Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande failed to pitch at the School and Campus Safety Summit at the University of the Western Cape.

Student leaders attending the Schools and Campus Safety Summit disrupted a session after key government ministers failed to pitch.

The inaugural summit held from 11 to 14 July at the University of the Western Cape focused on safety at South African schools and campuses. This initiative was brought about by the Ministry of Police, the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training. Other participants in the event included student leaders, campus protection services and delegates from the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority.

On Thursday afternoon, student leaders wanted to address the summit, claiming they weren't given an adequate explanation as to why national ministers who were scheduled to speak - Fikile Mbalula (police), Blade Nzimande (higher education and training) and Angie Motshekga (basic education) - were absent.

Minister Mbalula was scheduled to open the summit on Wednesday morning, while the education ministers were scheduled to speak on Thursday morning.

Minister for Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu was scheduled to speak on Friday morning. The session was cancelled.

Student leaders also voiced their concerns over transport and accommodation arrangements which they said was the responsibility of the summit organisers. They said they have travelled from provinces as far away as North West, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng for the chance to address the ministers.

Campus safety has been an issue highlighted in student protests of the past two years.

Comment had not been received at the time of publication from the police or higher education ministers.

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