The University of Fort Hare (UFH) has announced that its vice-chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu and management executive committee (MEC) on Wednesday will not be meeting with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.
Nzimande and Police Minister Bheki Cele are visiting the university in Alice, Eastern Cape, following the alleged assassination attempt on the life of Buhlungu.
Vice-chancellor’s bodyguard shot dead
Mboneli Vesele, the vice-chancellor’s protector, was gunned down on Friday night outside Buhlungu’s home in Alice. It is alleged that Buhlungu was being targeted because he has been clamping down on corruption at the university.
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At the weekend, the vice-chancellor called on President Cyril Ramaphosa for protection after the murder of his bodyguard.
Nzimande on Wednesday is engaging with various stakeholders – including the university council, executive management, trade unions and the Student Representative Council – on what his department has described as “the pattern of assassinations and threats on staff” at UFH.
‘State of mourning’
In a statement, the university’s spokesperson JP Roodt said Buhlungu would not be able to participate in discussions with the minister due to security risks and because the institution was “in a state of mourning”.
Roodt said the management executive committee (MEC) was also attending to the needs of those affected by Vesele’s death.
“Furthermore, UFH security and protection services have expressed concerns about the MEC returning to campus before the institution’s more far-reaching and robust security programme is rolled out in the wake of the assassination plot against the vice-chancellor and the killing of Mr Vesele,” he said.
Roodt added the university remained open to meetings with the Department of Higher Education next week, after the new security protocols and programmes have been activated, including the conclusion of the funeral and memorial services for Vesele.
Nzimande and Cele are expected to brief the media on Wednesday afternoon on the outcome of their consultations and share critical information on the investigations which are currently underway.
After the conclusion of the media briefing, the ministers will also be visiting the Vesele family to pay their respects.
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