UFS QwaQwa campus calls for patience
As students, staff members press for urgent action
The principal of the University of Free State’s (UFS) QwaQwa campus, Professor Prakash Naidoo, has called on students and staff members to be patient with the management as it is working hard to address problems that led to the college’s closure on March 28.
Naidoo was responding to academic and non-academic staff who marched to his office on Wednesday to hand over a memorandum of demands.
He said due to the potential threat to the safety of staff and students on the campus, the senior leadership had decided on March 28 to evacuate the residences and to close the campus temporarily until April 18 2017.
Naidoo also indicated that the campus management has been working hard to address the issue of student funding, which was the cause of the strike. “More than 1500 students were on the waiting least of the National Student Financial Scheme (NSFAS) but so far we have managed to source funds for 1300 students.
We are busy trying to find how the remaining students can be funded, ” Naidoo explained , adding some of the students were not funded by NSFAS because they did not meet the prescribed requirements.
“Some do not qualify because their parents can afford to pay them. Others were not funded due to their poor performance in their academics. But as a university we have sourced money from different sponsors to ensure that students are not left out of the system.”
The institution had also terminated its contract with Mafoko Security Company following a request by the students and staff after complaints of assault were laid against the firm in the court of laws.
Employees of the UFS QwaQwa campus under the umbrella of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), marched to the office of the principal where they handed over a letter of grievances condemning acts of violence that dominated student protests on the campus earlier on March 27-28.
“Nehawu understands the frustration that lack of finances and NSFAS are causing to the majority of the students on this campus and nationally. Before we are workers we are community members and as a result we fully understand what our brothers, sisters and children go through when faced with uncertain futures due to lack funding in higher education,” said Nehawu’s local branch secretary, Khutlang Leripa.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms acts of violence that shifted from genuine student concerns to the violent beating and shooting of students by a private security company, Mafoko security. This company has become synonymous with trouble on our campus.
It is with this mind that we call on the UFS management to summarily cut ties with this company before their actions result in dire consequences like loss of life. We want an investigation on this company‘s brutally assaulting our students. The university is a home away from home,” said Leripa.
Leripa also bemoaned the impact of the premature suspension of academic activities two weeks ahead of the Easter break.
“All stakeholders must share the responsibility of setting test and exam papers. We cannot carry the extra burden of setting new tests and exams alone. Collective contingency measures must be put in place to attend to this crisis.”