One of the top agricultural colleges in the country, situated in Limpopo, has been shut down following a series of protests which disrupted classes and administrative functions at the institution.
This was after students at Tompi Seleka College of Agriculture embarked on a three-week strike, in which properties were damaged. The students demanded that their concerns around the maintenance of the college building and surroundings be attended to.
Though several meetings were held between student leaders and officials from the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD) to resolve the impasse, the students continued to protest.
Members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) and other structures at the college could not be reached, as all students have now all been sent home.
Explaining the decision to shut down the college, LDARD spokesperson Selby Makgotho said: “College management and the department held several meetings with the students wherein progress was presented in relation to the issues raised.
“However, students continuously embarked on violent protests, whereby they barricaded roads leading to the institution and intimidated members of the staff and students not supporting disruptions at the college. The situation escalated daily, as were the list of their demands.”
Makgotho said matters came to a head when students forcefully removed lecturers from their offices and barricaded the entrance to the college. Three students were subsequently arrested.
“In the interest of the safety of the property, the personnel, students opposing violence and the livestock at the college, the LDARD was forced to suspend the academic programme,” Makgotho said.
Authorities have opened several cases of malicious damage to property against the students.