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UKZN staff and students unite against xenophobia.

Echoing the sentiments of many South Africans, staff and students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal showed their dismay at the recent spate of xenophobic attacks that spread across the country at the Peace March held in Durban on 16 April 2015. As a South African higher education institution whose vision is to be the “Premier University of African Scholarship”, the University believes we need to collectively rally against such abhorrent crimes against humanity.

In a statement issued earlier last week, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, urged academics and students to don their academic regalia to show their support. He said: ‘The University would like to condemn the harm caused to foreign-nationals living and working in our country with the strongest terms.’

UKZN’s Chancellor, Dr Zweli Mkhize, joined thousands of people at the start of the march at the Curries Fountain.

The University, in conjunction with its SRC, arranged for busses of staff and students to join the march to show their solidarity with those affected by the violence.

UKZN academic Lubna Nadvi said: ‘It is essential that members of the academic fraternity are actively engaged in critical social justice issues, and speak out against the xenophobic violence that is unfolding in our midst. While we can teach grand theories and ideas in our lecture halls, the reality is that not far from our classrooms, people are being attacked and murdered just because they are citizens of another country. We cannot remain silent in the face of such unacceptable tragedy that is wreaking havoc in our communities.’

UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus hosted a #SayNoToXenophobia demonstration on Friday 17 April 2015. Further, the College of Health Sciences alongside its staff and students, together with Gift of the Givers and the South African Medical Association, provided free healthcare services at three Refugee camps on Saturday 18 April 2015. The areas covered included: Phoenix, Chatsworth and  Verulam.

The University embraces a culture and spirit of Ubuntu, and fosters a welcoming and supportive environment to its international staff and students wherein diversity is respected and valued. In that light, the University wishes to reassure all international staff and students of its commitment to ensure their safety, and also urges all stakeholders to work together in adopting a peaceful environment that embraces and values diversity.    

Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer