Registration resumed at Walter Sisulu University’s (WSU) Buffalo City Campus (BCC) yesterday. This followed university management and the BCC Student Representative Council (SRC) reaching an agreement to restore normalcy to the campus after almost a month of student protests.
This news came as a surprise since the night before, on February 13, university management announced that BCC might be temporarily closed. Prof. Rob Midgley explained that “Student protest for the past three weeks has resulted in there being virtually no normal administrative and academic activity on the Buffalo City Campus.”
WSU spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo told SNG that management and the BCC SRC had many meetings which collapsed. Tukwayo said that this was “due to the SRC shifting goals and adding new demands”.
In the announcement, Prof. Midgley said that management would have one last meeting with the BCC SRC to stop the disruptions. “Should the Tuesday discussions not yield a result that returns the campus to normality, I will have no option but to close the campus and required students to return home until further notice,” he said.
Summary of last week at WSU
Last week Tuesday student protests at WSU were sparked by NSFAS’ delay. On Wednesday, February 8, a building on Nelson Mandela Drive (NMD) campus was torched. Tukwayo confirmed that the building was torched by a group of protesting students.
Students were forced to vacate from campus property and took up residences in OR Thambo District Municipality Hall. On Saturday, management and the Mthatha SRC reached an agreement. Part of the agreement was that the eviction order against students was temporarily lifted and students returned to their residences.
— #20SvalaKonke #FMF (@Ndim_uNoxolo) February 10, 2017
The SRC president posted on Facebook the conditions of the agreement. SNG asked Tukwayo to confirm that these were the conditions. She said, “Not all are true and as indicated, I will not disclose the contents of the agreement.” Mthatha SRC president Sinelizwi Mantangayi did not respond to requests for comment.
There was also some dispute concerning police involvement in the removal of students. SNG asked Tukwayo to explain what happened. She said, “SAPS were not involved in evictions, that is not their responsibility and they were not on campus at all during the unrest. They were present outside the university and were called in by members of the public because students were disrupting and intimidating the public including throwing stone at private cars travelling on the N2.”