Students block Johannesburg roads in protest over university fees

Wits University calls for calm

Students gather in the street to honour the memory of Mthokozisi Ntumba who was killed during a fees protest outside the Wits University campus in Braamfontein last week.
Students gather in the street to honour the memory of Mthokozisi Ntumba who was killed during a fees protest outside the Wits University campus in Braamfontein last week.
Image: Alaister Russell

Students took to the streets of Johannesburg early on Monday to continue their protests about fees as 26 universities across SA braced for a national shutdown.

Police were mopping up after students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) blockaded roads in Auckland Park, the SABC reported.

Wits University’s senior executive team called on “all parties to remain calm, to exercise maximum restraint, and to attempt to resolve issues through dialogue and engagement”.

Following deliberations with the student representative council (SRC) on Friday evening, the team met on Sunday to discuss a list of demands from students and planned to meet the SCR again on Monday afternoon.

Key demands presented to the university included:

• Wits (and other universities) should postpone the commencement of the academic year to March 30 2021;

• all students must be allowed to register, irrespective of the quantum of debt owing to the university;

• all students must be allowed to graduate, irrespective of the quantum of debt owing to the university;

• there should be no fee increases for 2021;

• all students who receive residence offers must be allowed to occupy residences with immediate effect;

• universities must pressurise government for a debt bailout for all institutions;

• all international students from the Southern African Development Community and broader diaspora regions must be allowed to register without having to effect payment of 75% of the tuition fee upfront; and

• all suspension orders must be uplifted with immediate effect.

“A Universities SA meeting will be held early on Monday with the 26 vice-chancellors of public universities at which some of these issues will be discussed. We will communicate the outcomes of this meeting to our various constituencies thereafter,” said Wits University.

The South African Students Congress called for a shutdown of universities on Monday after a meeting with the ANC’s top six, which is due to resume on Monday.

Both sides agreed in principle that universities should not exclude students who owe historical debt from registering for the 2021 academic year, Sunday Times Daily reported on Monday.

The debt owed to the 26 institutions by students is about R10bn.

TimesLIVE


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