Student protests at universities run up R300 million in damages

During the 2015/2016 financial year, universities have seen a wave of student protests.

FILE: A lecture hall at Wits University was set alight allegedly by students who had been protesting over fees. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Higher Education Department says student protests have caused damage to property amounting to more than R300 million.

The department says the consolidated figure excludes four other universities, which are yet to quantify the damage caused to their property.

During the 2015/2016 financial year, universities have seen a wave of student protests over a variety of concerns including fees, outsourcing and accommodation.

In a statement, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says he is astounded by the extent of the damage caused to property during the 2015/2016 financial year.

The North West University's Mafikeng campus has sustained the most damage, and will require R151 million to repair.

In February, an administration building as well as a portion of a residence block were set alight at the height of student protests at the institution.

Other universities that have sustained extensive damage include the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of the Western Cape and the Tshwane University of Technology.

Nzimande says his department is concerned about a certain grouping among students who are use violence and damage to property to exploit genuine student movements.

WATCH: Varsity students gather at Wits to reignite #FeesMustFall Movement

To see EWN feature on student protests 'Year of the student', click here.