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Burning Threats to UKZN’s Survival: Urgent Call for Strong Action Against Violent Protests

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Burning Threats to UKZN's Survival: Urgent Call for Strong Action Against Violent Protests

Burning Threats to UKZN’s Survival: Urgent Call for Strong Action Against Violent Protests. The consistent disruption of academic activities and the rampant destruction through the burning of university infrastructure poses a severe and immediate threat to the sustainability and continued existence of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). The persistent presence of student hooliganism demands a resolute response from both universities and law enforcement agencies. check your application status.

Ongoing Vandalism Puts UKZN’s Future at Stake

The recurring disturbances and the alarming trend of torching university facilities, including the recent incident at the William O’Brien (WOB) examination venue, underscore a grave danger to UKZN’s stability. These acts of violence were carried out by individuals claiming to be students, ostensibly protesting the new payment system introduced by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

The new system involves NSFAS-appointed suppliers managing payments, thereby excluding universities from the process. This shift has inadvertently placed universities in the line of fire for matters they lack control over. The protestors allege that this change has led to reduced allowances, causing some students in private accommodation to face eviction due to rent non-payment. The recent fire at the examination venue was the second such incident this month.

Escalating Violence and Destructive Tactics

In the preceding weeks, university vehicles, including those of the SRC, were set ablaze, while various buildings were subjected to stone pelting. The EFF Student Command released a statement opposing the continuation of classes, citing unmet demands from the university management. Subsequently, mass meetings and protests followed suit.

Reportedly, around 50 students congregated at the WOB hall, gathering stones and igniting a fire. Notably, the EFF’s silence in response to these events, including a lack of condemnation for potential involvement of their members, is conspicuous. The EFF’s historical approach of disruption and destruction, encapsulated in their “Six Ds and an O” strategy, appears to be at play.

University’s Condemnation and Misplaced Dialogue Efforts

Normah Zondo, a spokesperson for the university, strongly condemned the violence, emphasizing that it contradicts the institution’s academic mission. She highlighted the wanton destruction of university assets meant to serve future generations and stressed the lack of justification for such actions.

The university also expressed its commitment to engaging in ongoing dialogue with student leadership and stakeholders who seek peaceful solutions. However, history demonstrates that these protests seldom aim for dialogue; their primary objective is often to sow chaos and use violence as leverage to force unreasonable concessions.

A Legacy of Mayhem and Financial Burden

Recalling the “Fees Must Fall” protests from 2015 to 2016, UKZN bore substantial financial losses amounting to R262 million due to damages. The protesters’ tactics have far surpassed the boundaries of legitimate protest, verging into organized criminal behavior, as described by some academics.

The concept of free education, heralded by former President Jacob Zuma in response to the “Fees Must Fall” movement, has proven fraught with inconsistencies and inadequacies. Negotiating with those who resort to hooliganism proves futile, depriving genuine students of learning opportunities and deterring potential investors in higher education.

The Call for Unwavering Action

The time has arrived for universities and law enforcement agencies to adopt a resolute stance against violent protests. The City of Cape Town’s approach in dealing with unruly taxi operators, unwaveringly upholding the rule of law, serves as a commendable model. Emulating such an approach will demonstrate zero tolerance for property damage and disruption.

Conclusion

Failing to take a firm stand against these actions could spell the downfall of UKZN. It is crucial that authorities take stringent actions against those responsible for the destruction, refraining from capitulating to hooliganism. Succumbing to such pressures will only lead our nation down a path of ruin.

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