More than R18m worth of damages to TUT property since 2014

Lizeka Tandwa, News24

Pretoria – The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) incurred over R18m in damages to its property since 2014 due to student protests, the institution said on Thursday.

In a press briefing at the institution's main campus, TUT Vice Chancellor Lourens van Staden said the total damage last year was approximately R12m.

"In 2014, protesting students burnt 19 cars and other buildings were set alight, that was R6m."

Van Staden said that the damage this year was minimal compared to previous years, and amounted to R500 000.

"The attempt to set the library alight did not succeed. They only broke down one of the roller doors of the examination room and set alight a few boxes and broke a few windows... Fortunately we could kill the fires.

"That was one of the main reasons to close the university to undergraduates. The risk of setting our properties alight due to our lack [of] perimeters was great. The main risk was loss of life. How would we explain to any parents when one of students would die," he told reporters.

Van Staden said they had closed the Soshanguve north and south campuses until April 5. He said the closures would allow the university to resolve the problems that led to rolling protest action.

"Logistical and infrastructural issues, such as fixing perimeter fences and introducing security measures at all residencies and around the campus, in general will also be addressed,” he said.

"The university is going on recess from March 18. On March 19, we will convene a town hall meeting with parents and stakeholders to discuss the situation on that campus to have more ownership."

Van Staden said the two campuses would not have a recess during June holidays to cover for time wasted.

Students were seen vacating the campuses earlier this week after management issued a deadline for their departure.