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Unisa shuts doors ‘in the interests of safety’

Registration was meant to start on Monday, but protesting student groups blocked the gates and burnt tyres at the entrance.

People seen outside Unisa's Sunnyside campus where protests took place, on 15 January 2018. Picture: Ihsaan Haffajee/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The University of South Africa (Unisa) says it has closed its doors for today and sent staff and students home 'in the interests of safety'.

The situation at the Unisa Sunnyside campus in Pretoria is calm after disruptions on Monday morning that saw students being refused entry into the campus.

Registration was meant to start on Monday, but protesting student groups blocked the gates and burnt tyres at the entrance.

Some even tried to scale the campus gates in a bid to register.

Unisa has been dealing with demands from two student groups aligned to South African Students Congress (Sasco) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

The university's Martin Ramotshela says: “We will resume normal duties tomorrow (Tuesday). The people who came to register or apply have been asked to return tomorrow.”

Students have told Eyewitness News they want the institution to allow free registration for returning students..

Sasco’s Nomzamo Mahlombe says Unisa students have handed their demands for free registration to management.

“Free registration queries, first-year applications, students that were told their applications went through but when they come here they’re told the system doesn’t notice them….”

But Bono Masakona, from the EFF student body, says the protest was Sasco’s fault.

“When we came here in the morning we found Sasco shutting down the campus. As the governing party, we asked a simple question: we wanted to know on what basis they had shut down the campus.”

Sasco says Unisa management is expected to make an announcement on its demands on Tuesday.

The situation on campus seems to have calmed.

APOLOGY AFTER DISRUPTIONS

The student representative council (SRC) at Unisa’s Sunnyside campus has apologised to students who could not register due to disruptions at the campus.

The SRC’s Lesiba Mamaleka has apologised to students who were escorted out of the self-registration terminals.

“We are very sad that the events which occurred today denied our students the opportunity to apply. Sunnyside is the hub of the university so when it’s closed, about 10,000 students are affected.”

The university says it hopes student groups will allow registrations to take place while their issues are resolved.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)