Students are fighting fee hikes at universities around Mzansi. Protest action that started at Wits on Wednesday has spread to other universities across the country. Rhodes University and UCT have suspended all lectures and Fort Hare University students will protest tomorrow.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said yesterday that he would convene a meeting today with delegations of vice-chancellors, university council chairs, students and workers.
Nzimande said students had the right to protest. He called on all parties to “act with restraint, respect the rights and dignity of others, maintain discipline and protect university and individual property”.
He urged students to give space to talks to achieve a friendly solution and called on universities to act sensitively.
Wits students invaded Senate House yesterday while waiting for feedback from the university council.
They said they were told they would be addressed by midday but were still waiting at about 2pm.
Incoming Wits SRC president Nompumelelo Mkatshwa said: “If they do not come with a favourable response to us, they’ll see trouble.”
Wits lecturers and other workers joined students in solidarity, with placards saying: “We stand with the students.”
Lecturer Julian Brown said: “The problem with these fees is that poor students can’t afford them.”
On its website yesterday, Wits said: “Council will not engage with students at Senate House. Council has instructed Wits University’s executive management to clear and secure Senate House today by 3pm.
“Staff and students are requested to leave the building immediately.”
Wits sent the SRC a message, saying resolution of the fee issue “can only happen under safe conditions”.
Stellenbosch University’s SRC rejected a 11,5% fee hike and said there would be a mass protest tomorrow.
Rhodes students blocked entrances and turned people away yesterday.
Pretoria University students are said to be planning big protests on all campuses from tomorrow.