24 September 2019

The University of Zululand (Unizulu) had been encouraged
to urgently start on the construction of 3,500
new bed spaces using the money that had recently been made available to it,
Higher Education Minister Blade
Nzimande said on Monday.

Nzimande said that R230-million had been
transferred to the university for this purpose. The department’s plans
for infrastructure development
also included the refurbishment of current stock at the institution, he said.

“I have agreed that the university should start
procurement for the first stage of construction as soon
as possible,” said Nzimande, who was speaking at a media briefing in Durban.

Nzimande said he met with Unizulu council and
management on Friday to address several issues, including the assault of a
student in an off-campus residence and subsequent violent protests by

Most of Unizulu’s students lived off campus, he
said, and the institution was aiming to house 80% of its students in
accommodation that was “safe and accredited”.

The university had been added to the national
education department’s student housing programme,
which included all other historically disadvantaged tertiary education institutions
in the country.

On Monday last week, students used burning tyres
and branches to block roads in and around the
KwaDlangezwa campus, including the R102 and N2 freeway.  Schools in
the vicinity of the campus were also damaged and disrupted.

A satellite police station near the campus was set
alight on Monday night. The campus was closed on Tuesday and students were told
to vacate the premises. 

About 30 students were arrested following the
torching of the station.

The students were protesting the lack of security at
off-campus residences following the shooting of Msawenkosi Nxumalo, a 23-year-old student who was robbed of his
laptop and cellphone.

Nzimande said students were not immune to the high
levels of crime in South Africa.   

The safety at Unizulu was linked
to its location and the surrounding community, he said.  Only about 30% of
students could have their accommodation needs met by the university, and the
rest had to rent rooms in the nearby communities. 

He said that in 2020, Unizulu would be celebrating
68 years of existence. Despite this, the land on which the institution operated
was still tribal. 

It was imperative that the land was transferred to the university if costly investments were to be made and he had called a meeting with relevant stakeholders that included the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, ministry of police and traditional authorities.

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