South African varsity shut down over protests

South Africa. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) shut down its main campus in Pretoria on Wednesday following student protests overnight.

The students burnt tyres in the institution's main entrance‚ barricading it and blocking everyone from entering.

The university officials said they were forced to close the campus for the day to ensure safety of staff and students.

The students are said to have set up fires, which were later contained.

Police officers were forced to monitor the situation from outside the campus.

Professor Stanley Mukhola‚ the university's deputy vice-chancellor, said the protest started without prior notice about grievances.

“We're all caught by surprise by our students who decided to close our gates without informing us what the problems are‚” Prof Mukhola said.

Students say funds they receive from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) do not cover rent for those residing off campus, leaving many without proper accommodation.

TUT cannot accommodate for all its students and some are forced to seek private residence near the campus.

“Students get NSFAS but don't get residence. It is evident that NSFAS in TUT does not pay for private accommodation‚” the students said in a statement.

The students claim that they have been placed on the waiting list for residences and cannot afford private accommodation off campus.

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