Kathrada salutes student activists

2016-09-26 17:42
Ahmed Kathrada (Mlungisi Louw, Netwerk24)

Ahmed Kathrada (Mlungisi Louw, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada on Monday saluted the courage of young people calling for free tertiary education, but appealed to them not to destroy the facilities available to them.

"We don't condemn them. We understand their impatience," he said at the launch of a replica of Nelson Mandela's Robben Island prison cell in Mitchells Plain.

"Our only wish would be that they don't burn [facilities] and destroy books. It's unfortunate. We just hope that they don't resort to such methods."

On Monday morning, a fire tore through the William O'Brien residence at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Pietermaritzburg campus.

The entrance to the building was set alight shortly after 06:00.

Firefighters, protected by a significant contingent of police, extinguished it.

Parliament has lost its 'dignity'

The fire followed days of unrest at the campus. Students had been clashing with police since Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande announced last Monday that universities could decide their own fee increases for 2017, up to a maximum of 8%. Students from low-income households would not have to pay for the increase.

Kathrada said he understood the students' demands.

"We [stalwarts] are not in government. We don't know the budget. But we, at the same time, salute the courage of our younger people and what they want to achieve."

Fellow Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni, speaking on modern South Africa, said the respected role of Parliament was being tarnished by those who had played no role in the struggle.

"It has lost its dignity because of the behaviour of people who did not fight for this freedom we gave them on a silver platter.

"We fought for it and people sacrificed with their lives for us to be where we are today. Some of us are fortunate to be enjoying that freedom we fought for. Unfortunately we are messing it up."

Read more on:    ahmed kathrada  |  university fees  |  university protests

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