The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command at the University of Pretoria has declared that classes will not resume until the management of the institution reached an agreement with students.
The party command chairperson Kabelo Mahlobogwane said “Campus can’t open when there is no agreement. It is clear that we will not go back to an un-transformed institution.”
“We don’t want to go back to Tukkies, we want to go back to the University of Pretoria. It must be transformed first. We will wait for the university to give us a date on when we are going to start engaging on the memorandum,” he said.
Mahlobogwane claimed that the university is yet to accept their memorandum and secondly, the meeting they had with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, ended fruitlessly. However, Mahlobogwane said they won’t mind having a talk with the university on Friday. Then, university authorities can meet with students on Monday to proffer solution to the ongoing crisis.
The university of Pretoria was shut down due to the ongoing student protests and violence over its language policy. Following the incidence, at least 27 people were arrested last week Friday for public violence. They appeared in court on Monday. Fortunately, charges against three of them were dropped, leaving only 24 students to stand trial. They are expected to appear in court again on 7th April.
Last Wednesday, a group of students of all races at the University of Pretoria raised their hands in a morning prayer after a peaceful march around the campus. The students called on God to bring the violent protests and attacks going on in the campus to an end.
A student, Thobeka Dlangalala said “We are seeking the face of God for him to intervene and bring about peace.”
“We are not just asking for peace but we need transformation here on our campus and I believe it starts with a change of heart.”
“I believe everything on campus has gotten out of hand. There is just so much hate being thrown in all different directions. We feel as the body of believers on campus that nobody is coming up with solutions that are working and helping us. We are here to ask God to help us and help our country.”
Meanwhile, UP vice-chancellor, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, said academic activities will resume on Monday. She reiterated that the university would adopt a zero tolerance for violence and crime when classes start. To this effect, extra security would be brought in and they would also be working with the South African Police Service to forestall any form of violence.
“Given what happened, we have taken additional security measures and we have taken time to work with the South African Police Service and we are saying enough is enough.”
“We commit to peaceful engagements but we cannot have disruptions to the academic programme. We cannot be intimidated; we cannot have threats leveled to students, staff and anyone else who want to be part of this,” Cheryl de la Rey said.