On Friday (13/03) the Welkom Campus of the Central University of Technology (CUT) was closed down and everyone was sent home after a large group of students were disruptive and became violent.
On Thursday (12/03) members of the Welkom Public Order Policing reaction team were mobilised to the CUT, where students were throwing stones at Phiri Phiri security company personnel. The gates had been locked by the students, who had also blocked Mothusi Road with stones.
According to Capt. Stephen Thakeng, Welkom Police Cluster liaison officer, the security personnel apparently had to fire rubber bullets to disperse the students attacking them.
“Motorists had no access to utilise the road,” said Thakeng.
The CUT has issued a statement expressing dismay at the spate of disruptions at the Welkom campus caused by a group of students during the past three weeks.
“After careful assessment of the current situation, management has decided that the academic recess will commence on Friday, 13 March. The second term will start on Monday, 30 March,” says Dan Maritz, CUT spokesperson.
Maritz says the decision comes after continued disruptions of the academic programme, incidents of violence, intimidation, threats and victimisation of employees and fellow students, as well as damage to property. He says these developments have resulted in the campus being unsafe for the continuation of academic activities.
“Given the nature of this recess, the Welkom campus will not be accessible to students during this period. Management will engage further with university stakeholders in an attempt to identify challenges and to find sustainable solutions. Further information on the adjusted academic calendar for the Welkom campus will be made available in due course.”
This campus has been fraught with protest actions over the past months.
Since December 2019, management has had continuous positive engagements with the student leadership and key staff members towards ensuring a smooth start to the 2020 academic year. These meetings continued into the new year, and took place as recently as last week.
Thakeng says 17 students were arrested on Friday and appeared in court on Monday (16/03). The case has been postponed until 21 April and the students have been released on a warning.
The 17 suspects who appeared in court are: Nelly Thibakgwana (24), Boitumelo Thoabala (25), Mapapu Nomzekelo (20), Nomvula Mcwadi (20), Dimakatso Phala (29), Matshidiso Modise (20), Thabo Mofokeng (26), Sabata Majorobela (27), Ntsane Mbele (25), Thato Lebuso (23), Paballo Khamadi (23), Xolile Fokeme (21), Tshepiso Mokutu (21), Lideno Gumede (22), Masupe Mphutu (2), Kabelo Moleme (21) and Vincent Selema (24).
Thakeng says this recent protest emanates from the chairperson of the student organisation being suspended for allegedly submitting a fraudulent medical certificate.
“Lawlessness will never be tolerated. Students must be aware that when arrested it will affect their future, as they will have a criminal record,” says Maj. Gen. Lerato Molale, Cluster Commander of Welkom.
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