North West University (NWU) has ordered students to vacate the institution’s Mahikeng campus following violence that took place on Monday.
In solidarity with the call from the South African Union of Students (SAUS) to shut down 26 campuses of higher education institutions across the country, two NWU campuses - Mahikeng and the Vaal Triangle campuses - have been shut down since Monday by student protest.
They’re unhappy with the response they received from Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Nzimande, after submitting several demands to his office. NWU spokesperson, Loui Jacobs, said they resolved to close the campus after a group of senior students assaulted other students and damaged university property.
“These unacceptable actions were reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and a case of assault has also been opened at the Mmabatho police station,`’ said Jacobs. “The safety of students and staff on campus is increasingly in jeopardy. Therefore, the university management has, after consultations with relevant stakeholders including the SAPS, resolved to close the campus until further notice to ensure the safety and security of stakeholders,” he said.
A representative of the NWU Mahikeng Student Representative Council (SRC), Nontokozo Madikhetla, claimed students held a peaceful protest for 24 hours and denied any acts of violence during their protest. “The claims that we had violent protests or incited violence on campus are completely lies, because we have had a peaceful march for over 24 hours now,” Madikhetla said. Lebogang Maleho, one of the stranded learners - whose home is in Klerksdorp, said he was deeply frustrated.
“We came here to fix our NSFAS issues as students. Now we find ourselves in this situation where management has ordered us to vacate the premises by 3 o’clock [on Tuesday afternoon]. I’m from Klerksdorp I don’t even have money for transport to go back home. I don’t know where I’m gonna sleep,” Maleho said.