Pretoria students reject De la Rey's request for private meeting

2015-10-21 18:19
(Impi Isesendeni via Twitter)

(Impi Isesendeni via Twitter)

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Pretoria - University of Pretoria students have rejected Vice Chancellor Cheryl de la Rey's request for a private meeting with student leaders to discuss a list of their demands, including proposed fee increases for 2016.

A packed amphitheatre full of frustrated students gave De la Rey a resounding "No!" when she suggested the meeting. The students said she was disrespecting them and wasting their time.

"We are prepared to engage on the matter of student fees... We would like to indicate that we have agreed with student leaders to discuss the [matter]. We are looking at the demands," she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, thousands of fuming students exchanged their textbooks for takkies and boots before taking to the streets demanding the scrapping of proposed student fee increments for 2016.

Students are not happy with the planned fee increases for 2016. According to the students, the institution plans to increase the registration fees from R5 000 to R7 500 for South African citizens.

And for students from SADC region countries, the registration fee has gone up from R5 000 to R20 000, while other international students face a whopping hike from R5 000 to R40 000.

The students stormed De la Rey's office and demanded she come out to accept their memorandum, in which they demanded, among other things, free education, no fee increment across the board, no registration fee and a seat on the university council.

De La Rey accepted the memorandum, but students claimed they could not hear her over the loud-hailer when she attempted to address them. They demanded she follow them to the student centre where they had set up a stage with a sound system.

She failed to pitch and students took to the streets in anger, causing havoc around Hatfield. They marched around the university, then headed to the institution's biggest residence, Tuks Residence. When they arrived, they went straight to the dining hall and kiosk where they demanded food and water.

They caused major traffic jams as they sang and danced through the streets.

De la Rey then agreed to address students just before 15:30 at the amphitheatre.

"I indicated to you that we would seriously look at every single demand indicated to us. I have already indicated that we are prepared to engage.

"I am also very conscious that you have made sacrifices and that your families have made sacrifices... And many of you are already well prepared for your exams. We don't want to compromise your academics," she said.

The hostile crowd then started heckling her, chanting "Fees! Fees! Fees!"

After her departure, students vowed to continue with their protest, starting with a night vigil planned from 18:00 and protesting to resume on Thursday.

Others said they would sleep on the campus and continue protesting throughout the night.  

Read more on:    university of pretoria  |  pretoria  |  university fees  |  protests

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