UWC gets court order against protesters

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has obtained a court order to prevent a repeat of the violent protests that have rocked the campus since Monday.

As at the Durban University of Technology last week, the UWC protests related to National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allocations. University management said students were late in their applications for NSFAS funding and were demanding that UWC find the funds for their tuition.

Some students also claimed their supply of Pick ‘n Pay vouchers—part of their NSFAS allocations - dried up.

The SRC has threatened to continue with protests unless the university provides the funds for the aggrieved students. However, vice-chancellor Brian O’Connell says the university is not in a position to do so.

“UWC is not in the position to take on the responsibility of NSFAS and can only assist students with the help of the state or from bursaries made available by donors for needy students who excel academically,” he said in a letter to the campus on Wednesday.

The university’s management was meeting with the CEO of NSFAS on Wednesday in a bid to resolve the dispute. NSFAS has allocated R64-million to UWC for this year.

O’Connell said in his letter to the campus that “it is unconscionable that it [UWC] should come under attack from its own family members and be prevented from performing its important task”.

“We experienced a dark day when groups of students went as far as disrupting classes, disrupting conferences and even causing some damage, though slight, to a few buildings. This cannot be tolerated and it is clear that some of our students have divorced themselves from our fellowship and have now constructed UWC and the rest of its family as their enemy, to be attacked with impunity,” he said.

About 20 students were arrested during protests on Monday, but were released without charge the following day.

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