Student bodies divided
SRC structures come down hard on violent protests on campuses
Lillian Selapisa and Batandwa Malingo, The New Age, Johannesburg, 21
A split among students over the ongoing #FeesMustFall protests loomed across
universities across the country. South African Union of Students (SAUS), a
coalition for SRCs, has distanced itself from the violent free education
SAUS general secretary Sthembiso Ndlovu said the union supports Minister
Blade Nzimande's decision to fund an increase for the poor and the missing
"We do not support protests about free education as we know that it is a
step by step effort. We do not know who is behind the protests but we will
be talking to students," he said.
At the University of Pretoria tensions were high when the EFF Student
Command (EFFSC) and the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA)
clashed with the South African Students Congress (SASCO).
SASCO openly urged students to desist from violence and take time to study
the government's proposal while EFFSC and Pasma disrupted classes and called
for a shutdown.
Students belonging to the EFFSC and PASMA even burnt SASCO T-shirts.
SASCO condemned the disruption of classes as "senseless" and called for the
arrest of some EFFSC leaders.
Wits University, University of the Free State, Rhodes University, University
of Cape Town, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Stellenbosch University, Tshwane
University of Technology and Nelson Mandela University were some of the
universities which experienced violent protests.
Chaotic scenes broke out at Wits University as students and the university's
private security company engaged in a stone-throwing exchange after the
students were denied access to the institution's Great Hall.
Some students were injured in the fierce battle and the hall was left
damaged. Normal academic activities continued.
A number of the universities have shut their doors with UFS expected to
reopen on Friday while UCT opens tomorrow.
Not about fee increases
Wits University SRC general secretary Fasiha Hassan who is also deputy to
Ndlovu at SAUS said although no fee increase represents something symbolic,
their fight was never about fee increases.
She said a moratorium on fees would not help as the same students who could
not afford fees last year, would still not afford them next year.
Nzimande condemned campus violence.
"It is most disturbing to see such violent protests flamed by rogue elements
after wide consultation was undertaken on the measures announced this week
to address the ongoing issue of university fees.
"The government has heeded the call of students by subsiding fee increases
in 2017 to poor, working class and missing middle' students," he said.
The minister early yesterday said some leaders that were party to the
temporary fees compromise had reneged on the agreement and opted for
Nzimande said he had minutes that show that some leaders pushing for
protests were part of the joint meeting that agreed on an 8% fee hike cap.
"The dialogue with students must continue, however damage to property and
violence can never be tolerated," Nzimande said.
The national Treasury yesterday also said a policy decision has been made to
subsidise the fees of those students from poor backgrounds and the missing
Meanwhile, Fort Hare University has assured students it would implement no
increases for all students after students gave it two days to decide.
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