The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] condemns violence that has erupted at the Durban University of Technology [DUT] and other institutions of higher learning across the country.
NEHAWU is extremely angered by the failure of the management of DUT to resolve the genuine demands raised by students. The same management displayed the same arrogance they displayed during the NEHAWU 2018 Strike. Our Branch Executive Committee advised the management to shut down the university after assessing the situation at the campuses and realising that the safety of both staff and students was compromised.
Yesterday, our shop steward who is the branch treasurer was severely injured when students affiliated to the EFF student's commands were throwing stones at students and staff members who were not part of their protest which included damaging university property. Violence in institutions of higher learning must be condemned in the strongest possible terms and those found to be perpetrating it must face the full might of the law.
The national union would like to take this opportunity to wish all those injured a speedy recovery and sends its condolences to the family of the student who lost his life. Last year during our strike we appealed to the management of the university to refrain from using private security companies who use brute force on both students and workers. An investigation must be carried to ascertain why live ammunition was used to stop the commotion at the university.
NEHAWU supports the genuine demands raised by SASCO as part of their Right to Learn Campaign and condemn the use of these demands for cheap political point scoring. Even after 25 years since the dawn of our democracy our students continue to be victims of financial exclusion, inadequate accommodation and unsafe campuses. If these realities are not attended to as a matter of urgency we will continue to have an education system that is only accessed by those with deep pockets only.
We note the deafening silence of the Department of Higher Education and Training on this matter including ensuring that NSFAS undertakes its function of guaranteeing that students from poor background have access to higher education. We call on the Minister to intervene with immediate effect to ensure that student's demands are met and that all universities return to normalcy.
The national union will continue to work hard with the Progressive Youth Alliance [PYA] in ensuring that students are not excluded from accessing higher education and they study with no impediments.