Nelspruit students torch agri-college
6 May 2011 - Lecturers were driven off campus and buildings torched at the Lowveld Agricultural College by out-of-control students all week - in a repeat of similar rioting in october 2010, when student Leonard Nhlabathi was shot at close range with rubber bullets and was rushed to hospital.
This week, the police merely sat and watched at the gate while students torched college properties.
(source: Christopher de Wet)
NELSPRUIT - Students at the Lowveld Agricultural College are raging out of control, toching the college buildings and forcing lectures off the campus.
(source: Christopher de Wet) . On Tuesday morning students started a large fire at the main entrance and sang protest songs. On Wednesday to torched buildings still under construction, thatched structures at the college golf course: and even some palm trees were targetted by their wrath.
On Thursday there was a standoff: the college kitchen was closed and the students were beginning to feel very hungry. Its spokesman NG Mvilane of the student rep.council said "we have been let down by the provincial Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Administration (Dardla)."
"The local government proves to be useless. If our demands are not met we will boycott the local elections," said Mvilane.
What are those demands? Apparently it has to do with too few lectures. In October 2010 the students also staged a violent protests, and they then were shot at with rubber bullets by people described as '
members of the provincial TRT.' Student Leonard Nhlabathi was shot at close range with rubber bullets and rushed to hospital.
Since that time nothing has changed, said Mvilane. There still is no principal at the college who could address their grievances. The HOD claims that 'it is not easy finding people to work at this college who is suitably qualified. The lecturers don't come cheap...'
Mvilane struck back with: "There was supposed to be an investigation into the problems at the college, no formal report was submitted to the students by the HOD and the latter also never visited the college 'as stipulated in the 2010 resolutions'."
"The only visible changes at the college were the demolition of a perfectly fine gate and the stop-go-stop construction of the new main entrance - and some school bags bearing foreign emblems and logos.
Their semester exams start within two weeks but students will boycot them if their demands are not met.
What are the police doing while all this destruction of public property and law-breaking is going on? They learned their lesson since October and have decided to merely post outside the college and just letting everything burn 'until they received an official court order to remove the students'.
Mvilane said the government has closed the kitches and is 'trying to starve the students into submission. We have nothing to eat.
We have collected money among ourselves to buy food, but we can’t go on like this forever."
Lowvelder’s sister publication AgriEco Lowveld also quoted from an April 1 preliminary report by the local Democratic Alliance that 'the college was not suitably accredited as a tertiary institution."
Local MEC Ms Candith Mashego Dlamini denied this, saying that the college was 'accredited with the higher education qualification forum (HEQF) with accreditation number H/AG06."
This in turn was denied by the provincial executive director for quality assurance at the council for higher education Dr Mark Hay.
He said: "there was no such body as the ['higher education qualification forum': and should a tertiary institution such as the LAC wish to present an extra programme, this should be accredited with the HEQF.
This is one of several requirements to obtain accreditation, as the national Department of Higher Education and the South African Qualification Authority (Saqa) will have to prove," said Hay.
He also mentioned that accredited institutions should receive five-yearly visits from inspectors of the national department.
According to the DA report, the college has not been evaluated by the national department since 2005.