Minister in charge of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, has spoken on the fire that took place at the University of Kwazulu-Natal’s Westville Campus this week and condemns it. Nzimande has said that those responsible must be arrested and anyone doing the same should be exposed.
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 destruction of university property is a criminal offence and all those engaging in such acts must be arrested and face the full might of the law,” the Minister said on Thursday.
He called on the university management and law enforcement agencies to hold those responsible for Monday’s incident to account. The Minister also encouraged the university community, both the students and staff, to isolate, identify and expose those responsible for vandalising university property.
They have a duty to provide any relevant information to the law enforcement authorities so that the culprits can be brought to book
– Minister Blade Nzimande
Nzimade said that while government is continuing to invest billions of rands in improving the infrastructure for the Post School Education and Training institution, the university community must ensure that it preserves and protects the current existing infrastructure.
“The Minister calls on university Vice-Chancellors to tighten up security measures against acts of criminality and protect the freedoms and lives of all our staff and students,” the Ministry said.
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. 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”.
The Minister continued to say that, “These are criminals who must be totally removed from our institutions, they do not deserved to be within our institutions but belong in jail”.
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.”
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.
Media Statement by @DrBladeNzimande condemning the torching of student residence at @UKZN https://t.co/y628FCORDy
— HigherEduTrainingZA (@HigherEduGovZA) October 15, 2020
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé