THE safety of staff, students and visitors to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) will be the key consideration when hosting Varsity Cup rugby matches and any other Varsity Sport events going forward.
This follows yesterday’s incident at the University of Free State in which students (who were mostly University workers protesting on the outsourcing situation) sympathetic to the #FeesMustFall movement invaded the field and were confronted, attacked and chased from the field of play by security staff and spectators in a match between Free State University’s Shimlas and NMMU’s Madibaz team.
The Bloemfontein campus is closed as a result of these ongoing protests.
“We have to be sensitive and seek understanding as to what is happening in the higher education landscape and respond responsibly.”
However, for now, Lumka’s overriding concern is safety.
Last night, she instructed the team’s manager to keep the Madibaz players in the change rooms, with security until their safe passage could be guaranteed.
Many of the players had not expected the game, which was halted in the 17th minute, to be continued after almost an hour of stoppage.
“I will be liaising with other Heads of Sport over the next few days to discuss the way forward with regards to future games as we have to be sensitive to these protests, many of which are genuine.” I will also be in discussion with Varsity Cup Rugby to discuss their contingency measures for all the upcoming games. What is important to note is that none of our players were injured nor harmed and measures are in place to get them back home later today.
Next week, the Madibaz are scheduled to return to Bloemfontein to play against CUT, and continue on to Tuks at the University of Pretoria on 07 March. The next home game is on 14 March against Pukke (North West University).
NMMU is actively engaged with students from various sectors to ensure that challenges highlighted by the #FeesMustFall movement can be resolved, such as outsourcing and debt relief.
As a result, the University has initiated processes to reintegrated 826 workers from contracted companies, and has introduced debt and down payment relief as a means of assisting academically deserving but financially challenged students.
Tel: +27 (0) 41 504 1111
Fax: +27 (0) 41 504 2574 / 2731
PO Box 77000, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
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