Blade Nzimande, Higher Education Minister estimated in September that property damage was around R600-million since the beginning of the 2015 fees protests.
The police have confirmed spending over R3-million on overtime in Gauteng alone. They would not provide figures for the overtime bills in other provinces.
”People must not just equate it to a lot of money spent . but consider how much damage students would have caused if the police weren’t there,” said Thapelo Moiloa, spokesman for the Gauteng department of community safety. “It was necessary and it was money well spent.
”Police resources have been stretched. We have had to bring in officers from other police stations. We have had to put aside other priorities to focus on the protests. There will be a lot of backlogs to deal with,” said Moiloa.
The SA Special Risk Insurance Association has confirmed paying out more than R300-million to universities that claimed for damages during student protests. Many claims have yet to be assessed.
Thokozile Mahlangu, the association’s executive manager for stakeholder management, said claims were usually for damage to lecture halls, labs, libraries and books, and cars on the campus.
Universities of South Africa CEO Ahmed Bawa estimated the cost of property damage as a result of fees protests at “anywhere between R700-million and R1-billion”.
When the Sanlam auditorium at the University of Johannesburg was burned down the figure had reached about R500-million, Bawa said.
“It’s a crazy situation.”, Bawa said recent attempts by students to target university libraries were “disconcerting”.
“It’s not clear whether the attacks on residences are because they are a soft target or because there’s an attempt to undermine the capacity of universities to maintain their academic programmes. The residences are fundamental to [ the functioning of a university],” said Bawa.
The Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the University of the Western Cape, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal have had considerable property damage inflicted on them.
UKZN has estimated damages of around R60-million.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University spokesman Zandile Mbabela said the gutting of the Xanadu/Melodi clubhouse, and of the large hall at the campus boma, made up most of the estimated damages of R6.7-million in recent weeks.
Lauren Kansley, spokesman for the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, said it was not yet possible to estimate the damage costs.
Harold Maloka, spokesman for the Department of Higher Education and Training, also said it was too early to specify damages.
The Times asked universities to estimate property damage resulting from recent fees protests.
- The University of Johannesburg estimates it will cost R120-million to repair an auditorium and computer lab torched in May. A number of arson attempts in the past two weeks were detected before serious damage was caused.
- Wits reports the cost of repairing damages caused by protests this year until September at R412,000. This excludes the estimate for damages to a lecture hall, approximately R1.3-million.
- North West University’s Mafikeng campus damages in October 2015 amounted to R743734. Damages in February this year amounted to R52.6-million.
- In August the senate building and several cars were torched on the Westville campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The law library and a coffee shop were set alight at Howard College. In Pietermaritzburg, an exam hall was damaged and the William O’Brien residence was set alight.
- Nine vehicles were set alight on the main campus of the University of Zululand.