Students’ representative councils (SRCs) at universities across the country have distanced themselves from claims made by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) that they have raised concerns that positive Covid-19 cases could continue to rise if residences remain open.
The South African Union of Students (SAUS) said the SABC “erroneously made misleading claims” that SRCs raised concerns about the 19 covid-19 positive cases could continue to rise if residences remained open.
SAUS President Lubabalo Ndzoyiya said SAUS – as a union and body representing all SRCs across all universities in the country – we “want to categorically denounce such utterances from the SABC as untrue and misleading, in the same light we want to staunchly condemn this mischievous and propagandist stunt by the national broadcaster.”
“As a union, we maintain, that no student should be evicted and sent back home whilst the academic year is in process.
“In the event of implementation of harder lockdowns, we still maintain that students who were residing in residences when the tighter restrictions were implemented, must be allowed to carry on residing in residences,” said Ndzoyiya.
Adding that the union’s call and stance is echoed by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, in his previous address who said “residences will remain open, as it is also not safe for students to travel back home at this time and it is necessary for students to retain access to campus and residence-based WIFI”.
Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country has been moved to Adjusted Alert Level 4 following the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus spreading quickly across the country.
The announcement has direct for the teaching and learning programme, and assessments in particular.
At the time, Nzimande said that in terms of the Adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown, the universities do not officially close but all face-to-face teaching and examinations must halt for the next two-week period.
He said during this period, learning will shift exclusively to online learning for all students.
Even though the minister said university residences would remain open, he said universities need to continue to manage residences according to the necessary health and safety protocols, as outlined in the directions and in line with protocols developed by higher health.
Ndzoyiya said SAUS has been in contact with SRCs across the country in efforts the determine the veracity of these claims by the SABC.
“They [SRCs] have distanced themselves and claiming no knowledge of the above by the broadcaster. We therefore cannot accurately decipher what could have been the objective behind this malevolent act which propagated not only confusion amongst our students but even our parents,” he said.
Wits SRC has also distanced itself from the report.
“The Wits SRC would like to distance itself from this stance. Our students are not moving, they will occupy the residences. We are not a part of this. This is nonsense,” said the council.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) SRC also distanced itself from the SABC report.
“Our students in UKZN are not going anywhere and will occupy residences until they have fully exhausted all residence fees that they charged,” said UKZN student leader Moses Nkambako.
Tshwane University of Technology as well as the Mangosuthu University of Technology *MUT) have also distanced themselves from the claims.
“MUT SRC would like to distance itself from the statement of SABC news. We form absolutely no part of the SRCs mentioned and we are not at any point advocating for evacuation of residences,” said the MUT SRC.