Thursday, September 24, 2020

Vice-Chancellor held responsible for vandalism at UB

Dismissed members of the University of Botswana (UB)’s Student Representative Council (SRC) are blaming the Vice Chancellor, Bojosi Otlhogile for the vandalism caused by students to the school premises recently.

The security offices are said to have been amongst the first attacked, with the security cars heavily dented by bricks and one security guard allegedly ending up in hospital.

Nearby classrooms are also said to be in a terrible state, together with the Moghul refectory.
Most halls of residence were left untouched.

“We are blatantly accusing the vice chancellor of a blunder in decision making because, as it stands, he could have closed the school first and dismissed or suspended the SRC later on if he really did want to protect university property, or he should have let us address the students after he dismissed us,” said the SRC’s expelled vice president.

The student body, which had allegedly been on strike for three days because of the dead-ends they reached when negotiating with the Ministry of Education on a number of issues is said to have gone berserk the minute they found out that their leaders in the SRC had been escorted off the school premises by security guards after they had been dismissed and suspended by the vice chancellor.

The two expelled members are said to be the vice president and the Minister of Bar and Canteen, while the rest were suspended.

A local newspaper recently quoted the university’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Tefo Mangope, as saying that the university could not divulge the reasons for the difference in disciplinary measures.

The aggrieved students were left without a leader and were allegedly frustrated that the student hall, which was their meeting place, had been closed by order from the vice-Chancellor.

Left with no one to negotiate on their behalf with the Ministry and without a place to meet and discuss their issues, the crowd went out of control and influenced each other to destroy the buildings.

An attendant at the recent press briefing called by the suspended/dismissed SRC claims to have seen the unveiling of the violent attacks on UB property although he wasn’t a part of those who destroyed the class settings.

“The students were shouting amongst themselves because they knew they had reached a dead end. There was no one who could try to negotiate with the Ministry on their behalf and everyone had heard that the Ministry would not change its position. They then decided to trash the university before it would be ordered to close,” said the attendant.

Contrary to recent media reports that the vandalism within the school premises had started during the class boycotts, the SRC revealed to the Sunday Standard that no one was aware of any vandalism that occurred during the strike.

Kagiso Thutwe, the president of the SRC, said that there was no violence carried out on fellow students during the class boycotts, although he admits that they, as the SRC, didn’t encourage it, there were some students removed from classes by fellow students.

“It was what the other students wanted; the SRC constitution clearly states that every decision made in student body meetings binds all UB students, therefore if the majority decides to go on strike, every student is considered on strike,” said the president.

“The violence started the minute the students found out about the removal of the SRC from school because we were not aware that an attack on school premises had occurred, we didn’t even see the extent of the damage until later on the news,” said Thutwe.

Meanwhile, an e-mail sent to lecturers confirms that classes will resume on the 15th of February and that the planned short vacation would now be cancelled.

The expelled/dismissed SRC members are now in court trying to fight the disciplinary measures meted out on them.

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