The South African Students Congress (Sasco) has threatened to shut the campuses of the University of Johannesburg if it fails to reinstate the 17 students it suspended recently.
The congress said they were “perplexed that student activists have been abused‚ harassed‚ and intimidated for refusing to discuss fees at university councils and wanting to insource bouncers on campuses; and found themselves suspended for burning university properties”
Sasco president, Thabo Moloja, made this known at a press briefing held at ANC headquarters in Johannesburg on Thursday. He also alleged that the university’s vice chancellor and principal‚ Ihron Rensburg‚ has been carrying out “terrorist” actions on students.
“… We say to UJ management‚ it will not work‚ not with us. UJ will have to expel all student activists first and no amount of terrorism will work with us. We shall meet on the battlefield and shut UJ down,” Moloja added.
Seventeen students of the University of Johannesburg were suspended on August 5 after they torched the university’s auditorium in the early hours of May 15. The damage caused by the fire came to an estimated R100 million.
In reaction to the damage, the institution’s media representative, Herman Esterhuizen, said “UJ is one of the best institutions in the country and in order to remain one of the top performing universities, those guilty of these actions will have to be held accountable.”
The arsonists got apprehended with the help of the South African Police Services, the Special Investigation Unit (the Hawks), and forensic investigators appointed by UJ’s insurers and the institution.
The damaged lecture halls were later renovated by the institution and have since been open for teaching and learning from 1 August 2016.
In the meantime, the university said it is currently in discussion with the suspended students and will consider written representation for the suspended students to be granted limited access to the university’s campus for academic purposes.