VIDEO: Impasse at Walter Sisulu University leads to protests in East London CBD

BY YOLANDA PALEZWENI - JUNE 2, 2017
VIDEO: Impasse at Walter Sisulu University leads to protests in East London CBD

Protesting Walter Sisulu University students on Friday again took to the streets of the East London CBD following a deadlock in meetings between the Walter Sisulu University and the Student Representative Council (SRC) over a myriad of student grievances.

Follwing several attempts by the parties to find each other, on Thursday, Walter Sisulu University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rob Midley, announced the closure of the university's Buffalo City Campus (BCC) in East London - if students continued with their strike.

The students have been protesting for a week long now and are demanding among other things, that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) office to extend deadline for signing of agreement forms as most students are still not captured and not received responses from NSFAS and the university finds improved accommodation for students.

According to the students, notice was given that all the NSFAS loan agreements forms are to be signed before 31st May 2017 and that all those, who failed to sign their NSFAS loans will be cancelled. This is despite many students having not received feedback from NSFAS on their applications.

Speaking to RNEWS, Walter Sisulu University BCC campus President, Aurie Bavu, said that the management is not being fair to students for setting a deadline for signing of loan agreement forms while students still facing challenges with NSFAS.

“Students are facing challenges with NSFAS yet management sets a deadline, we want all the students’ challenges and needs to be solved first,” said Bevu.

 She added that, the management is being unreasonable to the students to issue out a deadline date while some students hasn’t even received any responses from the NSFAS office.

Other grievances from the students include the issue private residences that are not inhuman living conditions. The students are demanding that all students, who lives in private residences be moved to better facilities.

“The issue of these residences remains a serious challenge, we have given the management seven days to vacate our students and we are still waiting if nothing happens we will continue to protest because our students cannot stay in such,” said Bevu.

Furthermore, the students are claiming that the institutions have shortage of lectures in some of the faculties of the institution.

When management failed to address them on the issues, the students embarked on a strike, which has culminated in a notice telling students of the closure of the Walter Sisulu University BCC.

“Student protest and intimidation of staff has resulted in continued disruption of normal administrative and academic activities on the Buffalo City Campus, despite my request that all student should return to classes,” said Professor Midgley, in the notice.

He added that after consultation with the Campus Management Committee, he then decided to order that the Buffalo City Campus should be closed with immediate effect until further notice.

“The university cannot guarantee students their safety at present and I am advising students that they should vacate residences until such time as matters return to normal. The university cannot be held responsible or liable for any student who remains at this Campus for the period of this closure,” said Professor Midgley.