Public Protector offers to intervene on university fees deadlock
Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela has expressed concern about, and pledged solidarity with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) community and other institutions of higher learning affected by, violent outbreaks that have destroyed much needed infrastructure. UKZN this week became the latest institution of higher learning to experience strife relating to disputes over fees, amongst other issues. This has seen parts of the university’s Howard College Campus, which houses the institution’s School of Law, set alight. The campus also houses the offices of the African Ombudsman Research Centre (AORC), an information, research and archive centre of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA). Adv. Madonsela is the chairperson of the AORC and a former Executive Secretary of AOMA. Speaking at the Diakonia Council of Churches event in Durban, where she was awarded the Diakonia Human Rights Award, Adv Madonsela said: "We understand the hardship and despair endured by many disadvantaged students as a result of the enduring legacy of past legalised injustice and the slow pace of progress in the pursuit of social justice." She added that, in her view, the starting point to finding a solution on the fees challenge should be a national approach that isolates the specific cases of needy students, separating them from those of students coming from affluent families that can afford tuition or those sponsored by affluent companies. Adv. Madonsela also opined that she views problems of unbridled structural inequality or social injustice as a factor that will continue to derail peace and stability, thus posing a threat to constitutional democracy in South Africa. She added that the solution partly lies in the implementation of Chapter 5 of the Equality Act.
The Public Protector appealed to students across the country to stop the destruction of infrastructure and explore entrusting avenues such as her office with their grievances for solutions.
She said the destruction of infrastructure solves no problem and instead takes away resources that could be used to provide the services that are being demanded to fix whatever has been destroyed. Adv. Madonsela indicated that she would be approaching the UKZN to offer mediation services of the Public Protector.
Meanwhile, Adv. Madonsela was on Friday presented with the South African Women Lawyers Association’s (SAWLA) Excellence in Service Award after speaking at an event of the association’s KwaZulu-Natal Chapter on how female lawyers can seize leadership opportunities in administrative law. She will receive one more accolade on Friday night from the Corporate Counsel Association of South Africa.
For more information, contact:
Public Protector South Africa
Cell: 079 507 0399