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Nzimande announces plans to deal with safety issues at universities

This after students at University of Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal held several demonstrations to highlight security and accommodation concerns at the institution.

FILE: Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande on Monday announced new plans to deal with safety issues at universities across the country, including the allocation of over R200 million for student housing development.

This after students at the University of Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal held several demonstrations to highlight security and accommodation concerns at the institution.

Nzimande said the funds would be used to refurbish lectures and student residences.

This intervention came after Durban University of Technology (DUT) student Sandile Ndlovu was stabbed in a lecture hall at the university’s Steve Biko campus earlier in September. Ndlovu succumbed to his wounds in hospital at the weekend.

Nzimande said plans were under way to address the students' concerns.

“My department has included the University of Zululand as part of our student housing infrastructure programme currently being implemented across the country. An amount of R235 million has been earmarked for this student housing development,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nzimande said security was being beefed up at DUT.

The minister said he was assured that the university had suspended its head of security on allegations that he had poorly executed his duties. He said an assessment team had already started working on the programme of action.

“I informed the council of the University of Zululand that I held a meeting with the leadership of Universities South Africa, at which we agreed that Universities South Africa would work with the department to develop a joint plan of action towards addressing campus security, including preventing acts of violence,” he said.

JOINT CAMPAIGN

Minister Nzimande said recent events, including attacks and assaults on students, were a cause for concern.

He said a joint-plan with Universities South Africa would seek to address campus security, crime prevention and specifically look at gender-based violence in campuses across the country.

“We agreed this would include a process to gather information on the state of safety and security plans, and to identify urgent matters to address at institutions.”

He also called on students, staff, management and communities surrounding tertiary institutions to work together in implementing solutions for accommodation, safety and security issues.

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