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VUT students want criminal charges against suspended peers dropped

VUT says its management has no power to withdraw criminal charges, which is all in the hands of police.

Vaal University of Technology students clashed with police on Thursday. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Students at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) say they want all criminal charges against suspended students to be withdrawn unconditionally.

This week, protests started at the institution which saw a store room and a portion of a disused residence set alight.

The university says while it's open to having discussions with students, it's not prepared to sacrifice what remains of the academic year.

VUT students say they want their peers who were suspended to be allowed to resume their education at the university without the threat of disciplinary action.

One of the suspended student leaders says that management should hold a public meeting to discuss issues with students who are protesting for people like him.

"All the students must come and be addressed by the management on what exactly is going on because these students are fighting for us that we must come back to the school."

But the university says the institution's management has no power to withdraw criminal charges, which is all in the hands of police.

Today 17 students who were arrested during protests on Wednesday night are expected to appear in court.

RUSH TO SAVE ACADEMIC PROGRAMME

Meanwhile, VUT says it's not prepared to lose what remains of its academic programme due to student protests.

The university increased security at its Vanderbijlpark campus yesterday, where students were protesting for free education and to have suspended student leaders return to the institution.

The institution says exams are underway and that it will ensure that the academic year concludes timeously.

The university says closing the institution due to protests by some students isn't an option.

VUT's Mike Khuboni says: "We'll remain operational as we don't want to lose this academic year. We've got students who are dependent on NSFAS. I we shut down, they will definitely not get funding."

The institution says it hopes to have a meeting with student leaders - to understand why protests are taking place.

It says it can only speculate at this point that the demonstrations are happening as a means of solidarity with expelled and suspended students.

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