7 February 2011
The University of Johannesburg’s new-look Soweto Campus, refurbished to the tune of R450-million and boasting a range of new facilities and residences, was opened by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Friday.
Motlanthe said that building a university or expanding an existing one was a clear indication of the intentions of the government, tertiary institutions and other stakeholders to invest in South Africa’s future.
He said the campus would have a positive impact on the Soweto community and Gauteng province, while attracting students and academics from all over South Africa and the world.
“The expansion of this campus will play a key role in addressing the developmental needs of the broader Soweto community,” Motlanthe said.
The revamped campus boasts high-tech equipment in new computer laboratories, new lecture halls and residences, a student centre, law and health clinic, and sport amenities.
Motlanthe said the campus would not only be an educational landmark and academic centre in the broader sense, but would also stand out because of its offerings of diploma programmes.
“It will constitute an important part of serving the higher education needs of the area, both for Soweto and for the commercial and industrial heartland that is Gauteng.
“I appreciate the very important area of historical context, which the university has taken the trouble to consider in this admirable project,” he said.
Various buildings at the revamped campus have been named after apartheid struggle stalwarts such as Antony Mzwakhe, Enoch Sontonga, Robert Sobukwe, Bram Fischer, Ellen Khuzwayo, Nthato Motlana, Tsietsi Mashinini, Hector Pieterson and TW Kambule.
University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor Ihron Rensburg said university education and world-class educational facilities were not the preserve of the rich, but of all citizens, including the poor and marginalised.
“Barely a few decades ago, education inclusion and academic freedom was a distant dream of our forefathers,” Rensburg said.
“We also take note that Soweto has global significance for all people who value liberty and the human spirit’s quest for freedom.”
Rensburg said the campus aimed to become an institution of choice for students, and to cultivate the rich intellectual and artistic talent that continues to emerge from the area.
Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela were among the guests who attended Friday’s ceremony.