In line with lessening public sympathy with students damaging university property during protests‚ President Jacob Zuma on Friday warned violent offenders that they would have to account for their actions in court.
“The destruction of property is a criminal offence and will be treated as such by the law enforcement authorities‚” he bluntly stated.
“We have directed the police to ensure that all such cases reach the courts and that those responsible answer for their actions.
“This infrastructure must be available for use by generations to come‚ and students should respect university property as leaders of the future.”
Despite the warning‚ Zuma re-emphasized the seriousness with which the government takes the issue of higher education funding.
“The funding base for higher education students has been expanding considerably over the years‚ although it has not yet entirely offset the financial challenges for many students. Government cares and will continue to search for ways of making access to higher education easier for students‚’’ he pledged.
He asked the university administrations and students to cooperate with and work with Minister Bonginkosi Blade Nzimande and the Department of Higher Education and Training to find solutions to the challenge of student funding and access.
“…Education is a societal matter. We must all work together to find solutions to the higher education access challenge. From parents‚ business community‚ labour‚ religious leaders‚ traditional leaders‚ political parties and communities in general‚ let us find solutions together. It is not a matter that must be resolved by government alone‚ or by the Department of Higher Education and Training alone‚” said the President.
The Presidential Commission of Enquiry into Higher Education and Training Funding is currently considering the issues of higher education funding in their entirety.
“We urge the students to explore peaceful avenues to engage on this issue constructively.”
Academics‚ parents and concerned students are planning a crisis talks meeting at the University of Johannesburg on Saturday after nearly a week of #feesmustfall protests.
Yesterday saw increased property damage‚ with a multi-million building torched at Fort Hare in Alice in the Eastern Cape‚ and during protest action earlier this month the law library at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College was set alight.
In April‚ the Higher Education Department estimated the 2015 #feesmustfall protests cost universities R300-million in damage. In May‚ a R100-million state of the art auditorium was set alight.