Violence at tertiary institutions a concern

Friday, August 28, 2015

Pretoria - The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training says it is disturbed by the recent spate of politically influenced violence at a number of institutions of higher learning in the country.

With some institutions having held or set to hold their Student Representative Council (SRC) elections during the current period, the committee noted with serious concern that in some cases the elections have been marred by violence among students of contesting parties.

The latest incident erupted at the Tshwane University of Technology, where a number of students were left injured after fights between two opposing political formations. Similar incidents have been reported at Wits University.

Committee Chairperson, Yvonne Phosa, said the situation called for urgent action by all authorities concerned. She said this should be dealt with before it becomes a norm at campuses during election periods.

“It is very worrying when we heard of occurrences of this nature where violence of a senseless nature is meted out by students at each other. Despite belonging to different political formations, we urge students to act in a manner that is civil and show political tolerance so that incidents of violence, which have no place in our higher learning environment, do not recur.”

Phosa called on all political party leaders to desist from engaging in actions that might incite violence among students.

“Political party leaders have to conduct themselves in a responsible manner rather than to be seen to be instigating violence. Leaders should not be the cause of disruptions which lead to violence on campuses.

“We all have the responsibility of instilling good values in the students, who are our leaders of tomorrow,” she said.

Action against perpetrators of violence

Meanwhile, the Department of Higher Education and Training has called on the management and governing bodies to take the necessary action against the perpetrators of violence and those responsible for the destruction of property.

Higher Education and Training Director-General, Gwebinkundla Qonde said the management and leadership of all institutions, universities and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges must ensure the safety and security of all staff and students at campuses, particularly during this time of student representative council elections

He called upon political parties to act responsibly and respect the laws of the country, and the rules of institutions.

“Incitement of violence by leaders of political parties is an irresponsible act of desperation. The department expects political parties in our country to respect our institutions and abide by their rules on how political activities should be conducted,” Qonde added.

He encouraged the institutional management and leadership to ensure that students undergo conflict resolution training and fully understand human rights.

The department has planned for the training of the student leadership at all institutions. The training will be conducted during October 2015 and early November 2015. –

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