Students suspended over alleged hostage incident

On 26 May, a female UP staff member was allegedly “held hostage” in the Merensky library by four UP students. According to a statement released by UP, the students had also been concealing a weapon, but the incident “was swiftly resolved by police and campus security services and no one was injured”. The four students have been suspended from the university. According to UP’s media liaison, Rikus Delport, the students will face disciplinary action and possible criminal charges.
According to a statement released by EFFSC UP Branch, Surprise Silowe who is the branch’s chairperson, Neo Mashaba who is the branch’s political officer and general member, and Thulani Masilela a general member of the branch, were allegedly suspended for engaging in “a robust and progressive program of ensuring that the executive listen to them and immediately schedule a meeting after numerous attempts of internal processes of pleading for a meeting which have been undermined”. The statement also accused UP of being “anti-EFF” and also condemned previous suspensions and expulsions of other members of the party.

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Nehawu strike at UP ends

On 30 May, UP and Nehawu reached an agreement that brought an end to Nehawu’s strike action that lasted almost two weeks.

Workers of the National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) started protesting on 19 May for an increase in wages, a thirteenth cheque and the option to choose a different medical aid other than the one used by UP. Since the start of protests, various entrances to UP’s main campus have been closed off and, on 26 May, striking workers set animal feed on fire on the Onderstepoort Veterinary campus.

Read more: Nehawu strike at UP ends

Nehawu protestors cause fire at Onderstepoort campus

On 26 May, a group of protestors set fire to animal feed at the Onderstepoort Veterinary campus.

In an email sent to Onderstepoort students, Professor Dietmar Holm, deputy Dean for teaching and learning in the Faculty of Veterinary Science, reassured students that the animals on campus were safe. In the email Prof. Holm said, “All fires have been stopped, [the] animals are safe, and [the] animals are being fed and watered.” Prof. Holm told Perdeby that around 50 workers were part of the group that started small fires across the campus. Prof. Holm added that no estimates of damages have been made thus far.

Read more: Nehawu protestors cause fire at Onderstepoort campus

Fifth annual Robot Race Day

On 26 May, the fifth EECE Race Day took place on Hatfield campus. Race Day gives electrical, electronic and computer engineering students a chance to showcase their practical skills in a competition in which students must design, construct and test an autonomous, line-following robot vehicle.  

The race consists of groups with a maximum of four members per group. This year solo racer 21-year-old Petri Oosthuizen won the race in a respectable time of 11.29 seconds. Oosthuizen also won the Lone Ranger prize for the fastest solo entry and the prize for the car that most accurately following the line.

Read more: Fifth annual Robot Race Day

Mass meeting at UP


On 18 May, the Temporary Student Committee (TSC) hosted a mass meeting at the Piazza on UP’s Hatfield campus to address student grievances. The gathering was the result of various student bodies and political organisations coming together to petition for the TSC to engage with students. Together, they are known as the UP Student Commission.
Thabo Shingange, the TSC’s deputy chairperson, opened the meeting. In light of the national crisis of female sexual assault, particularly that of the black woman, he stressed his disapproval of UP’s sexual harassment policy. Calling it “flawed and problematic”, he said that those who are offended by those speaking out against issues such as hyper-masculinity and rape are the “very beneficiaries of patriarchy” at the institution.

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