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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

South Africa: University of Zululand SRC disbanded

Kailene Pillay

The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) at the University of Zululand was disbanded after members looted hotel rooms at the upmarket Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens and Resort last month.

The students booked 20 single rooms for a strategic planning workshop in November, but some were found in possession of duvets, pillows, kettles, crockery and other items on check-out.

University spokesperson Gcina Nhleko-Mdluli confirmed the university council took a resolution to dissolve the SRC, due to serious misconduct by 12 of the 15 students.

Nhleko-Mdluli said the students were deemed “not fit to stand office and to be student leaders”.

“An administrator will be appointed from the three SRC members who were not implicated in committing the misconduct,” she said.

The university will hold consultations with the appointed administrator and the announcement will be communicated to all students once the process is finalised, Nhleko-Mdluli said.

She said the university was prioritising the matter and appealed to all students to allow the process to follow its due course.

Gooderson Leisure chief executive Gavin Castleman said it would not press criminal charges against the students, as they had recovered all of the missing items.

“We are leaving it in the university’s hands now,” he said yesterday.

Castleman said the students checked into the resort on November 10 and stayed for three nights.

“When they were checking out on that Wednesday (November 14), the cleaning staff notified management that a large number of items were missing from most of their rooms.

“This is a common procedure that cleaning staff check the rooms before guests check out,” Castleman said.

He said on inspection, they found that duvets, pillows, cushions, kettles, cutlery and crockery were some of the items missing from the rooms.

Castleman said they were found in the students’ bus.

“We did decide not to press charges and we trust the university will take appropriate action,” he said.

Chairperson of the Parliament’s portfolio committee on Higher Education and Training urged the university and the hotel to use the law to correctively deal with the theft that took place.

Speaking during a committee meeting in Parliament yesterday, chairperson Connie September said it was disappointing when student leadership was involved in “stupid acts” that involved stealing and destruction.

“Strong leadership is required from the students. Students should not be associated with such acts, as they are future aspiring leaders.

“This is unnecessary attention that has been brought to the university, whose leadership and governance challenges still need resolution,” said September.

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