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Compiled by Devina Haripersad

Minister of Higher Education slams university arson attack

Government cannot and will not tolerate the destruction of property, regardless of any reasons provided.

The students who were arrested for malicious damage to property and burglary business, after they allegedly looted a cafeteria and set alight the foyer of the Sports Hall at the University of Fort Hare, appeared in court today, 6 June 2023.

Meanwhile, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has since expressed his deep condemnation regarding the recent incidents of arson at the Alice Campus.

“Government cannot and will not tolerate the destruction of property, regardless of any reasons provided. Arson, vandalism, and intimidation can never be justified or associated with legitimate forms of protest and should be unequivocally condemned by all, including the students themselves,” he said in an official statement.

ALSO READ: Twelve students arrested for allegedly torching UFH ‘over congested exam timetable’

It was reported that the students allegedly targeted the foyer of the Indoor Sports Centre, causing significant damage over a disgruntlement with the exam timetable – claiming it was too crammed.

A day before the examinations were to take place, a number of individual believed to be students, came together to set the building on fire.

Exam timetable

According to reports, a group of students allegedly directed their frustration towards the foyer of the Indoor Sports Centre, resulting in substantial damage.

Their discontent stemmed from concerns over the exam timetable, which they claimed was excessively packed. Just a day before the scheduled examinations, several individuals, believed to be students, assembled and intentionally ignited the building.

 Despite the incident, the university remained resilient and issued a statement affirming that the exams would proceed as scheduled, undeterred by the unfortunate event.

Minister Nzimande further expressed his satisfaction that the incident did not disrupt the ongoing academic activities, particularly the mid-year exams, which are progressing without any disruptions.

ALSO READ: Fort Hare university to oppose application to thwart SIU investigation

He emphasised that the university must subject all students involved in this incident to internal disciplinary processes to uphold the institution’s standards and principles.

Nzimande also commended the prompt response of the university staff and students who swiftly contained the fire before it could escalate further.

The minister said that he thanked the university management and Law Enforcement Agencies for their collaborative efforts which resulted in the identification and subsequent arrest of twelve suspects involved in the incident.

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