Vaal students’ protest about computer theft escalates into arson with a R1 million price tag

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Kgothatso Madisa And Roxanne Henderson | 12 May, 2016 14:41

Image by: Sowetan LIVE via Twitter

The repair of damages caused by rioting students at the Vaal University of Technology could cost over R1 million.

This is according to the executive chairperson of the Student Support Services Dr Segopane Seroka.

Students set fire to offices and a staff house on Wednesday night following a physical altercation with the contracted security company.

In light of the “escalating violence”‚ students have been asked to vacate residences by 2pm on Thursday‚ the university said in a statement.

University operations have also been shut down following a spate of student protests this week.

A spate of computer thefts seems to have been the initial reason for the protests. A memorandum handed to the university by students earlier this week‚ which demanded the release of students who had been arrested or suspended due to protests on campus‚ was posted on VUT’s Facebook page.

Students said they were unhappy with the quality of the security company services on campus as there had been a lot of thefts in the residence area.

VUT students submitted a memorandum to Seroka’s office demanding an immediate termination of Mafoko Security’s contract after catching non-Vaal students roaming around the residence.

The university said it was in the process of finding a new security service provider.

“We are in the process of procuring services from another company because Mafoko’s contract expired‚ so we are working on a month-to-month‚” said Dr Seroka.

However‚ clashes erupted after the university said that they were not able to terminate the contract on the spot. Students started protesting and vandalised one of the security official vehicles.

Dr Seroka confirmed that there has been high level of reported theft of computers at the university but said that they have made a breakthrough following a number of arrests made by the police.

Police spokesperson Captain Fikile Funda‚ who was at the scene of the protests on Thursday‚ said: “It’s chaos. The students have been given an ultimatum to get [off campus].”

Public order police officers fired light grenades to disperse the crowd‚ he said.

Funda said students had their sights set on burning the campus’ main building.

“They [are] making noise‚ screaming‚ singing‚ mobilising each other and attacking security officers‚” he said.

– TMG Digital/SowetanLive

http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2016/05/12/Vaal-students’-protest-about-computer-theft-escalates-into-arson-with-a-R1-million-price-tag

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