The Oval residence at the University of Kwazulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Westville campus was torched on the morning of 12 October, resulting in millions of rands worth of damage.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nana Poku, said that the damages from the fire amounts to millions of rands. This comes on top of the damages the University has previously seen due to violence and protests.
Fortunately, no injuries came from the fire. A forensic investigation is now underway as the University continues to assess the damage done and opened a case of arson at SAPS.
We have called for a forensic investigation into the matter, and those responsible will be brought to book
– Professor Nana Poku
The building was closed for three weeks because of safety concerns with the acting executive director: corporate relations at the University, Normah Zondo, saying, “This is the same building that was closed due to significant concerns with the condition of the building. Campus security and police were alerted after the flames were spotted in the early hours of Monday morning”.
Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Sifiso Simelane has condemned the actions and said, “We are not in support of it, that is a criminal act and honestly speaking it’s very traumatic that we have people who will burn down a building. We are very disappointed and we are very shocked.”
This heartless act of destruction affects all of us and points to the fact that we are still facing an onslaught from criminal activists set on destroying our university. Ironically, this act of vandalism comes as the university begins its back-to-campus campaign in earnest under level 1 lockdown
– Professor Nana Poku
According to an article by The Witness, the leadership of UKZN has expressed outrage over what it termed the “cowardly and random torching of The Oval student residence”.
Simelane continued to say, “Nobody in their sober state of mind has a right to destroy property and bring out University name into disrepute. It pains me, and I fail to understand how a future leader of this country can commit such an act of criminality at an institution of higher education”.
He then went on to say that this will tarnish UKZN’s reputation and that it will have an effect on the employability of graduates from the University citing that it “will jeopardise the future of all other innocent and well-behaved students”.
The SRC wants those responsible to hand themselves over.
The Oval Residence was closed following a conditional and structural assessment of the building where it was deemed as unsafe. The building was not up to the standards of the municipality’s regulations for occupancy and it’s closure affected about 181 students.
Students were then asked to stay at their houses until further notice as UKZN looks for alternative accommodation which will be safe for them. These students will also not be charged any accommodation fees.
UKZN New res A Block. https://t.co/RbPFeaBei6 pic.twitter.com/7rHkOs4jjx
— Mthiyane (@SpeshZondo) October 11, 2020
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé