UKZN student protests cause R31m in damages

UKZN student protests cause R31m in damages

The University of KwaZulu-Natal's Vice-Chancellor says R31 million worth of damage has been caused to the university's property by protesters over the last few weeks.

UKZN colleges protests
Lauren Beukes

Some of the institution's campuses have been the scene of violent demonstrations over historical debt.

READ: UKZN counting the cost of vandalised campuses from student protests

During the violence at the Westville campus last week, an elderly professor emeritus was beaten up by students. 

In a statement, Professor Nana Poku says their collective hearts skipped a beat when they saw footage of Professor Erwin Brüning being assaulted.

READ: UKZN Professor assaulted during violent student protests

He says no fair-minded person would ever find that acceptable - adding they condemn it in the strongest possible terms. 

Poku says a small minority of individuals are irrationally insisting on demands - which management has shown in great detail that they can't possibly be met.

Among the demands is for the historical debt of students from low-income families to be written off.

READ: Protests flare up again at UKZN

But Poku says these students make up 78% of all students. He says if they were we to accede to this - it would plunge the university into a deep financial crisis that would force it to close its doors to thousands. 

According to UKZN, over 85 percent of students are registered and are ready to learn. Poku has questioned why the disruptions are continuing when this is the case. 

He says UKZN's leadership bodies have taken stock of the situation and will continue to talk with student leaders and other stakeholders.

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