Ricochet News

Nothing wrong with employing #FeesMustFall activists if they never broke the law: NMMU

By Jesica Slabbert - Jan 23, 2017
Nothing wrong with employing #FeesMustFall activists if they never broke the law: NMMU

While some reacted with disapproval after it recently emerged that the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) has employed at least two known #FeesMustFall leaders, the university said there was nothing wrong about its decision.

Thanduxolo Nkala and Nathi Dwayi, who are believed to have been part of the group that led the #FeesMustFall movement at the NMMU will be working in the university’s Law faculty as teaching and research assistants this year.

As on many campus across the country, the #FeesMustFall movement saw several violent clashes at the NMMU between students and public order police. In the end, there was damage to property while classes and exams had to be suspended for weeks.

The NMMU had to extend the academic year in order to complete the year.

RNEWS spoke to NMMU Vice-Chancellor of NMMU, Professor Derrick Swartz, about the matter.

“This is the first time I am hearing about this allegation, but if the student broke the rules of the University and have been found guilty then there must be a sanction imposed on that student.

“But if a students associated themselves with a cause, and did not break the law or cause harm to anyone, then they have the rights of any other person,” he described.

Still, some students, who were adversely affected by the #FeesMustFall protests, as well as some disgruntled parents found the development to be controversial. They said that they felt the NMMU was rewarding the ‘Fallists’ for the disruptions caused last year and wondered if they would do anything to avert disruptions if #FeesMustFall protests should happen again in 2017.

In a statement on the matter, the NMMU management said; “NMMU affords its students a chance to gain valuable work experience through various opportunities within sports, arts and culture and academia.”

The university explained that for academia, the University’s seven faculties create opportunities for postgraduate students to pursue teaching while furthering their studies.

“This, in a concerted bid to encourage more students to join the academia, particularly in light of the foreseeable shortage of academics in the country, especially the important need to attract female and black students,” read the statement.

“Therefore, the institution makes these opportunities available for all students to take up should they meet the set criteria. This is also a way of retaining our best students in the system.

“That being said, every year the University’s Faculty of Law employs students who are registered to do their Masters (or Doctorate) in law to assist with teaching and administrative responsibilities within the Faculty.”

The NMMU said that ten such students have been employed as Teaching and Research Assistants (TRAs) on contract basis this year, out of 20 shortlisted candidates.

“These include Thanduxolo Nkala and Nathi Dwayi. Their appointment is with effect from 1 February to 31 December 2017.

“The latter’s employment is conditional upon him successfully completing the LLB qualification and obtaining an appropriate average for admission to a Master’s programme in the Faculty,” it said.