Armed riot police broke up a peaceful vigil by students in Swaziland seeking to get their closed university reopened.
The vigil by students of the Swaziland Christian University (SCU) was outside the Ministry of Education and Training on Thursday (7 September 2017).
Armed police from the Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU) gave the students 10 minutes to disperse. The OSSU is known for its violence and the students led by executives of the university’s student representative council decided to march away.
SCU was closed in August 2017 following an investigation by the Swaziland Higher Education Council (SHEC). According to a 40-page report, SCU, a private university in a joint venture with the Swazi Government, did not have the required funding to continue. There were also issues among others about the suitability of learning resources such as the library and the relevance and quality of its courses.
The university which specialises in medical-related courses had an enrolment of 916 students in the past academic year.
When the university was closed Minister of Education and Training Phineas Magagula said the ministry would work with SCU to get it reopened as soon as it was practicable.
In 2015, when SCU was in financial crisis and could not pay salaries, the university blamed the Swazi Government for not giving it money it had promised.
The Observer on Saturday newspaper reported at the time (28 February 2015), ‘This was disclosed by the university’s bursar Lusekwane Dlamini through an internal memorandum.’
The newspaper reported the memo said, ‘This memo serves to inform you that salaries for this month will be delayed due to the current financial situation faced by the university.’
The newspaper added, ‘According to highly placed sources, the school administration is accusing government of failing to render their salaries. They are alleging that government promised to give them E27 million [US$2.7 million] which was not met.’
It reported the Minister of Education and Training saying there was no money at the moment. He said the Government had paid the university E3m at the beginning of the year.
In February 2015, it was reported that armed police raided the university’s campus after students boycotted classes. They were protesting about a shortage of lecturers and inadequate teaching facilities.
It was also separately reported that 25 female students from the university had been raped in the previous year. Students blamed the university for not providing them with secure accommodation.
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