The higher education department has estimated the cost of damages to higher education institutions during student protests to be more than R145m. This is estimated cost linked to the protests over the period of October 2015-January 2016.
Higher institution students have made their voice heard under several banners including #FeesMustFall, #RhodesMustFall and #OutSourcingMustFall since October last year.
In the course of making their voice heard, some students went over the board by setting some university buildings, including the North West University administration building on fire during the student protests. A lot of the students protesters were placed under arrest during clashes with the police.
The university of KwaZulu-Natal leads the list of the universities that recorded damages during the student protests with a notable estimated cost of R82m.
Following in earnest on the list is the University of the Western Cape which accumulated more than R46m worth of damages.
Completing the top three is the Tshwane University of Technology which had over R5m worth of damages.
Among the least affected universities with moderate damages are Rhodes University with R250 000, Walter Sisulu University with R351 287 and the University of Johannesburg with R345 000.
Meanwhile, the statistics is not yet complete as the department said a more detailed assessment on costs of damage in 2016 was underway.
Minister Blade Nzimande condemned the way the students expressed their opinions, insisting that while protests were a democratic right, resorting to violence and damage to property in the name of protests was a criminal act.
“It is in light of these, that the minister has met with the Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to agree on stronger deployment of police into universities where protests are reported to protect universities’ property, the staff and students from protesters,” it said.
The department thereby urged the majority of students to stand up and denounce these acts of violence before it becomes a tradition. It also made a clarion call to parents, churches and the society at large to join hands together to discourage this mayhem.
“We are calling for parents, faith-based organisations and society at large, to condemn this new phenomena of criminal behavior,” it said.