Saturday, August 12, 2006

Pretoria university and student body in stand-off

Pretoria, South Africa
11 August 2006 03:31

The University of Pretoria's management and the Pan Africanist Movement of Azania (Pasma) refused to budge from their respective positions on Friday.

The student body said they would continue with their protest, while management said it would not reopen the campus unless violent protests came to end.

"The students have contravened the agreement we had with them on Tuesday, that there [would] be no violent protest on Thursday," said campus director Edwin Smith.

Pasma provincial spokesperson Vusi Mahlangu said the violence seen on campus on Thursday will be like a picnic if management continue with their arrogance and do not respond positively to its demands.

"We are prepared to meet them on the battlefield and allow blood to flow, should there be a need," Mahlangu said in a statement on Friday.

The university reported damage worth R40 000 caused when students threw stones and broke windows on campus on Thursday, said Smith.

Issues raised by students could not be resolved overnight, but management will continue holding talks with them, Smith said.

Pasma is protesting against the mid-year academic exclusion of more than 30% of students.

"We are not prepared to go back to the table until the University of Pretoria agrees that all excluded are brought back to the system while the negotiations continue," Mahlangu said.

The university must also reverse the decision of changing the campus into a community centre.

Smith responded: "Academic exclusions are instruments to ensure that the university is not bloated with undeserving students, but students who perform well.

"The students who are academically excluded are afforded a fair hearing to explain their performance to the university," said Smith. -- Sapa

*Original source: Mail and Guardian Online