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Calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to assist with providing protection and support to the University of Fort Hare following the killings and attempted assassinations of staff were answered this week when a delegation from the University met with the President.
The meeting was held in Cape Town on Thursday, 23 February.
The delegation from UFH was led by the Chancellor, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC; the Deputy Chair of Council, Dr Siphokazi Koyana; the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sakhela Buhlungu; and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Prof Renuka Vithal. Mr Mfundo Scott, UFH's Acting ICT Director, was also present following cyber espionage crimes that the University recently uncovered.
In attendance from the President's Office were Roshene Singh, Chief of Staff and the President's spokesperson Vincent Magwenya.
Also present was the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, accompanied by his Director-General and Advisor.
The engagement with the President came after the VC openly called on the Presidency for support and protection following incidents of murders and attempted murders against some senior managers at the University, including Prof Vithal. In May last year, Mr Petrus Roets (UFH Head of Fleet) was gunned down in daylight.
Last month, the country was shocked by the brazen assassination attempt on the life of Prof Buhlungu that resulted in the death of his protector, Mboneli Vesele.
Prof Vithal said the UFH delegation was very humbled by the genuine and sincere interest shown by the President during the engagement.
"The President understood the issues we are facing. This includes acts of violence, intimidation, and smear campaigns in the wake of our clean-up operation and renewal programme to restore the dignity of this historical University, and root out corruption."
The VC said the engagement was positive and hopeful. “The President has heard our concerns and said he will now meet with the relevant ministers and the security cluster to explore security measures to assist with protecting the University going forward.”
UFH Spokesperson JP Roodt commented: "The UFH community is pleased this meeting took place. Various efforts were undertaken to block direct engagement between the UFH Council, Management Executive Committee, and the President."