Unisa again experiences protest action disruption at graduation

The University of South Africa (Unisa) has reported that graduation ceremonies held this week on 19th April were interrupted by protests.

In an announcement the university writes that, while all the invited students did manage to graduate as planned, things took a turn for the worse.

“…we did however experience some rather disturbing scenes when protesting members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) invaded the graduation hall with the intention to disrupt the proceedings,” reads the announcement.

“This unlawful act, which included an unfortunate discharge of a pepper spray canister, caused considerable panic and discomfort to students, guests and staff of the university and left many feeling unsafe on the premises of the university.”

In Unisa’s statement it does not make mention of who the pepper spray belonged to or what NEHAWU was protesting.

On the official online presences for NEHAWU no mention is made of the matter at the Unisa graduations. The most recent update from the group was made on Facebook on 19th April which addresses the flooding happening in some parts of the country.

“It is also common knowledge that the graduation session planned for 18:00 yesterday also had to be postponed as the same protesters had blocked the entrance into the Muckleneuck Campus and thus rendered access to the campus difficult for the graduating students and other guests. They also rendered the environment very hostile and unsafe for the guests,” the university adds.

Following this the ceremonies planned for 18:00 were postponed.

This is not a new occurrence at Unisa as protests affecting graduations have now happened two months in a row. In March a similar situation played out with protests held over salary adjustments for employees.

“Following the face-to-face communication with the affected stakeholders by the University Deputy Registrar yesterday, the university will, in due course, communicate in writing the details of alternative graduation arrangements that will be put in place for students affected by the postponement of yesterday’s evening session. This communication will be sent directly to the affected students via email and/or sms and will include the details for the collection of certificates for those students wishing to do so,” Unisa concludes.


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