MARKO SVICEVIC UP’s Department of Facilities Management, in collaboration with UP’s Department of Residence Affairs and Accommoda...Read more
On 7 October the charges against the Tuks24 were dropped. This comes after the case was postponed for the seventh time. Students were arrested in February this year after protests broke out on UP’s Hatfield campus and in the surrounding areas.On 18 February protests against UP’s language policy flared up. Protesters demanded that Afrikaans be removed as a medium of instruction at the university. Students for the removal of Afrikaans were confronted by students against it. Several violent altercations took place between the two groups. Both groups eventually dispersed.
On 20 September a notification was published on the UP website stating that a High Court order against unlawful protest action had been extended until 2 November.
Unlawful protest action is defined as intimidating and violent behaviour of students, disruption of tests and classes and obstructing exits and entrances at UP. UP sent suspension letters to several students following unlawful protest action following Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande’s announcement that universities could determine their own fee increases with a cap of 8% for 2017.
UP’s SRC elections were scheduled for 20 September. They were disrupted by protesting students in reaction to Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande’s announcement on fee increases for 2017. Questions about the way forward with SRC elections have been raised.
Michael Bongani Reinders, an independent candidate running for the portfolio of SRC president and the 2016 SRC ex-officio member for residences says that the disruptions impacted the elections negatively. According to Reinders, “Many people were prevented from voting or didn’t get the chance to even go and vote and as a result, I don’t think that the elections can be viewed as free and fair; they were disrupted and thus incomplete,”.
Arson attack at UP leaves two cars burned
On 26 September, two cars on UP’s Hatfield Campus were set on fire in an alleged arson attack.
The fires came after students began protesting at the university for free education following Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande’s fee increase announcement. Speaking to Rekord East, police spokesperson Cpt. Anton Breedt said two cars were set alight in the area but could not give further details.
Due to the volatile situation faced on campus, the October recess was moved forward. According to a statement released by Vice- Chancellor and Principal Prof. De la Rey, “In the interest of the safety of students, staff and property, university management has decided to move the October recess period forward.” The recess therefore started on 26 September and the university was meant to reopen on 10 October for the start of the fourth quarter.
Several rumours on social media added that an IT lab had also been burned. According to UP spokesperson Anna-Retha Bouwer, this was a false rumour and there were no fires at any of the university’s computer labs.
The Tuks Leadership and Individual Programme (Tulip) is a student-founded organisation that aims to develop school children from rural areas with the aim of getting them into and through university. Founded in 2016, the programme recognised several problems that the South African economic and educational systems are currently facing such as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s shortages in loans granted to tertiary education students.
As a result, Tulip established an initiative to address these issues and achieve widespread access to education. The sponsorship programme developed allows for individuals and organisations to sponsor a child by donating R700, which enables high school learners to join the Tulip programme from Grade 9 onward and participate in the programme for five years. Their goal this year was to assist 100 students from Gatang Secondary School and Solomon Mahlangu High School. The programme aims to prepare learners for university by assisting them with leadership skills, academic preparation, finances, planning and human development.