Port Elizabeth – A case of arson has been opened after the procurement building at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s South Campus was burnt, and two petrol bombs were found on the scene.
Graffiti was also spray-painted on the walls in blue paint, which read “ANC must fall”, “Fuck you” and “100% free education”.
Police have confirmed that a case of arson is under investigation after the building had allegedly been petrol bombed on Saturday night.
This follows two arson attacks on buildings on the South Campus last year.
The Xanadu Melody clubhouse, which was situated near the residences, was completely gutted on October 17 and October 20, 2016, the Campus Boma was also burnt to the ground.
NMMU Vice-Chancellor, Derrick Swartz, said the university condemned, in the strongest terms, the latest arson attack on its property.
“The University will take every necessary legal measure to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and call on all our stakeholders to rise against violent elements threatening the very existence of the University,” he said.
“This is simply unacceptable, blatantly criminal and has no place in a democratic order. We know this does not represent the vast majority of those campaigning for ‘free’ higher education, but there should be no ambiguity about how utterly wrong this is,” said Swartz.
“We should firmly reject the notion often put forward by apologists that violence is somehow justified by existence of structural violence such as poverty, inequality and unemployment. In a democratic order, it has no legal or moral basis. One cannot live by the rights of our Constitution during the day, and, when it suits you, seek to live outside of its obligations by night.
“Once you embark on this dangerous and highly flawed reasoning, it means any acts of wanton violence, including taking of lives, burning of libraries and hurting innocent people can be justified in an inescapably circular logic,” he said.
Swartz called on all legitimate student formations and their leaders to publicly distance themselves from the incident and expose the perpetrators.
“We furthermore call on the [police] to swiftly arrest the culprits and for the courts to impose the harshest sentence on guilty parties,” he said.
Swartz said the university would be putting a range of extraordinary measures in place, starting on Monday, to patrol all buildings, tighten physical security and access – including special steps to control movement during after-hour periods, especially around critical infrastructure.
“We will also be setting up a special hotline for anyone with information – whose identity will be protected – which could lead to the identification for prosecution of individuals involved in this criminal act,” he said.
The university said that all students and staff will be required to carry their NMMU identity cards with them at all times, visibly displayed, as from Monday, February 13.