By Kwanele Sibiya | 2022-05-19
With each passing day, the University of Eswatini seems to be plunged into chaos and disorder as the institution grapples with the issue of payment of student allowances and more recently, the writing of the final examination.
Given the recent developments surrounding the payment of allowances and the university’s insistence that examinations will go ahead next week, it was a matter of time before the institution was forced to close.
Once again, students instigated violent protests on Monday night over unpaid allowances, students’ refunds, the administration’s refusal to postpone the examinations scheduled to commence on Monday as well as the deteriorating security measures at the university.
A decision was taken to close the university with immediate effect yesterday with Senate announcing early in the morning that all three campuses were closed until further notice.
The closure of the university was communicated by the Registrar, Dr Salebona Simelane, through a memorandum issued yesterday.
“The senate resolved at its special meeting that the university should be closed until further notice and students should vacate their residence,” read the memorandum.
The senate meeting was held yesterday morning and the students were informed to vacate the campuses by 10:30am.
The protest at the Kwaluseni campus started at around 9pm on Monday when a group of students forced those who were studying for the upcoming examinations out of class.
Thereafter, they are said to have proceeded to the main road situated adjacent the university, where they blocked the flow of traffic by burning tyres in the middle of the road and placing debris such as stones and logs across the road.
This is said to have left motorists with no choice but to contact the police, who promptly responded to the call.
Upon arrival at the scene, the police reportedly fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets in an effort to disperse the students.
The students reportedly ran helter-skelter, while a majority of them ran for cover in their dormitories.
After a while, the students are said to have emerged from their hiding places and began vandalising property.
They are reported to have first forced entry into the warden’s office, where they broke the door and a window as well as and ransacked the office.
The students are also said to have forced entry into the book shop, where they did not only ransack the place, but also allegedly stole an undisclosed number of items, including laptops and bags.
According to the sources, after realising that the situation was seemingly getting out of hand, police allegedly roped in members of the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF), who also reported to the scene.
The chaos, however, lasted until yesterday morning as the students were uncontrollable during the course of the night.
While the chaos was ongoing at Kwaluseni campus, the same was said to be happening at Luyengo and Mbabane campuses, prompting the administration of the university to announce the immediate closure of the institution.
At the Luyengo campus, students are reported to have interrupted the flow of traffic as they burnt logs and tyres along the road and police were also called to restore order.
Chief Police Information and Communications Officer (PICO) Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed that police were deployed at the university.
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