Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University today (16 May) issued an interdict against a small group of community members, who on Thursday (12 May) blockaded both entrances of the University’s Missionvale Campus with burning tyres and rocks – and also stoned the university’s shuttle buses.
It was the second time the group – a “Community Steering Group from Wards 31 33” – had led protest action outside the Missionvale Campus, despite several meetings organised by the University to discuss their concerns, and commitment from the university to work with them to address these. The latest meeting was to have taken place on 12 May, but was cancelled due to the protest.
NMMU decided to go the interdict route after the group stoned the shuttled buses between 1pm and 2pm on Thursday. Thereafter, police escorted the buses to and from campus, to prevent further stonings.
“The prevailing situation is not conducive to constructive and further engagement. We will only be able to resume talks once a level of normality has been re-established,” said Missionvale Campus Principal Dr Phakama Ntshongwana.
The Community Steering Group first approached the university in April, with a number of concerns and demands, including allegations that the University was not providing sufficient employment opportunities and training for the immediate communities surrounding NMMU’s Missionvale Campus.
NMMU met with the group on April 27 for the first time, and then again on May 4.
“Our agreement was that we would base our engagement on mutual respect,” said Dr Ntshongwana. “NMMU Management reiterated during the last meeting that the University recognised the serious challenge of high level of unemployment and poverty in our surrounding communities and therefore committed itself to undertaking the following:
- That Mr Ivor Baatjes, who heads up the Centre for Integrated Post-School Education and Training (CIPSET), meet with the group on 12 May, to discuss the development and implementation of a “cooperative business literacy programme” for the group. This meeting could not go ahead.
- That we (NMMU) facilitate a discussion with Coega and the Department of Public Works regarding work opportunities.
- That NMMU provides a comprehensive breakdown of university human resource statistics for service workers; and
- That NMMU explores, with the community steering committee, a variety of strategies to address the unemployment issues in community.
“We are concerned that the group has broken away from this agreement,” said Dr Ntshongwana.
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