Tshwane varsity shuts down academic programme and residences over meal protests

PRETORIA-The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has instructed students at all nine campuses to clear their residences as soon as possible, “for their own safety”.

The university resolved on Wednesday to close all academic programmes for students with immediate effect, until further notice.

Student protests over unpaid meal allowances and insufficient residences flared up at TUT campuses in recent weeks, and intensified on Monday.

“Since there will not be any services available on campus residences and, because management is concerned about the welfare of our students, they are therefore required to vacate residences for their own safety,” TUT spokesperson Willa de Ruyter said.

“The safety of the students, staff and TUT property on all campuses remains management’s first priority, therefore, due to the volatility and unpredictability of the current situation, the university had no choice but to close academic activities for students, until further notice, in order to allow the situation to calm down,” said De Ruyter.

She said that the institution’s management would, however, continue to “engage” with the higher education department, and student financial aid, NSFAS, towards resolving the current situation.

‘Knee-jerk reaction to students demands’

De Ruyter said that students and stakeholders could find updates on the recovery plan on TUT’s website, once approved by Senate.

Scheduled activities of the university, including the upcoming graduation ceremonies, will however continue.The Young Communist League (YCL) in Tshwane said that it was “perturbed by TUT management’s decision of just shutting down the university’s campuses”, adding that it viewed that decision as a “knee-jerk reaction to students’ demands”.

“The management’s attitude reinforces a view that deepened inequality and indifference towards challenges in previously disadvantaged institutions, [which] continue to be at the centre of laments of students at historically black, disadvantaged universities, and those challenges are being overlooked,” said YCL secretary Kgabo Morifi.

He accused university management of largely ignoring the students’ calls.