Tensions Have Risen At #FeesMustFall Protests

As organisations that work to protect and advance the right to protest, we note with concern the situation on various university campuses across the country.

Tensions have risen to an all-time high with the shutdown of many universities across the country, the widespread use of force, interdicts, arrests, private security and police brutality on campuses.

Police and Security on Wits Campuses

Police and a full security contingent will be on all Wits University campuses on Tuesday as lectures resume.

“It is not ideal to attend classes with police at the doors of learning, but I am left with no choice,” vice chancellor Adam Habib said in a statement on Monday.

The full security presence was due to the harassment of some staff on Monday. He apologised to staff members who were intimidated, threatened, and forced to leave their offices earlier in the day.

Wits SRC to Protest Against Fee Increment

The University of the Witwatersrand SRC on Tuesday said it rejected the 8% fee increase and would mobilise students to protest against it in January. 

"We obviously need to challenge the 8% increase as it will deny access to students," Student Representative Council president Kefentse Mkhari said.

"What guarantee is there that those currently studying here, who already have student debt, will be able to return to study next year, with an 8% increase?"

Wits Student Leaders Meets with Management

Fifteen student leaders are expected to meet to negotiate free education with Wits University management in Solomon House on Thursday morning.

There are strict controls in place at entrances by security and everyone who enters must prove they are a student by presenting their student cards.

There is a heavy police presence with police sniffer dogs and dozens of officers making their rounds on campus.

Wits' Senate says the academic calendar will be extended by two weeks.

Public Hearing Into Feasibility of Free Education

The Fees Commission of Inquiry looking into the feasibility of free tertiary education will resume with its public hearings on 22 August 2016 at the Mbombela Stadium in Mpumalanga.

The Council on Higher Education, which has recommended a six percent tuition fee hike for next year, and South African Students Congress which has vowed to oppose any tuition fee increase, are expected to make submissions.

No Free Education, No Elections

Student leaders sidelined from the meeting on 14 January 2016 with Higher Education minister, Blade Nzimande, have vowed to continue protesting.

#FeesMustFall members in Johannesburg threatened there would be no local elections this year without the guarantee of free education.

Activist Busisiwe Seabe says that, “Free education is now a right. No free education, no elections."

To read the article titled, “No free education, no elections,” click here.

The #FeesMustFall Fight is Not Just About Fees

South Africa's post-apartheid reality has unfolded with massive disconnects between the provision of the rights enshrined in our much-lauded Constitution and the realities on the ground. The current wave of student protests across universities is a clear indication that students are fed up with not being able to afford exorbitant fees; with the conditions they live in; the poor prospects of employment after studying; and with state money being wasted through corruption.

State-Led Initiatives and Students Can Break Impasse

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) weighed in on the university fees protests by saying it is ‘desirous that normality of classes‚ learning and teaching is restored’.
The commission also promised to release findings and recommendations of its own probe into “factors that either constrain or enhance levels and speed of transformation in institutions of higher learning in the country”.

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