NMMU students demand food from acting vice chancellor

2016-09-20 17:51
Protesting students. (News24)

Protesting students. (News24)

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Port Elizabeth - A peaceful day of protesting at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is apparently hungry work, with students demanding food from the university's management team when they met to discuss their demands this afternoon.

A small group of students began blocking entrances to the main campus in Summerstrand with burning tyres and broken-off branches as early as 05:00 on Tuesday.

As the morning wore on their numbers swelled as recruits from the residences on and around campus were rallied to join them.

At one point a group of more than 100 students entered the residences on the north campus and went from door to door, calling on the students to come out and join the protest. By mid-morning the protesters' ranks had swelled significantly.

The university notified all staff and students to stay off all campuses, including George and Missionvale, due to student protests in line with a national call to shut down all universities.

"Essential services will continue, but all academic activities have been suspended for today. Essential services include security, catering, cleaning, health-related services and key technical staff," it said via its Facebook page.

"The university management is meeting this morning to consider the implications of the ministerial statement on fees and will continue to engage with students in this regard," it added.

The student representative council announced on their Facebook page this morning that the call for a total shutdown was as a result of the unhappiness following the announcement by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande.

Follow-up protests

"The students have expressed the fact that what the minister has announced does not address the problems that our students are facing, we all agreed that the poor and missing middle are systematically excluded through the lack of funding. We will only be liberated through free quality education for the poor," the statement read.

"We have also noted that although the strategic objective is free quality education, which is a national competence which reflects on the failures of government, we must however note that there are immediate issues that we need to address as an institution; students who were granted down-payment must be cleared of their debt, they must be given allowances. The university management must have a clear stance of where they stand," they said.

But the students were less clear when they met with university management outside the main building at 12:00 today to hand over their list of demands to acting vice chancellor Dr Sibongile Muthwa.

The students, who had initially gathered in the foyer of the main building on north campus but were asked to move outside due to their numbers, told Muthwa that they were hungry and wanted food.

When she asked if this was a request or a demand, the group shouted back that it was a demand. Muthwa then asked the students to be patient while they looked into addressing the demand.

No further demands were made by the students, who then returned to the entrance of the campus where they continued to block the road and sing protest songs.

A number of those who had been a part of the morning protests were, however, seen heading back to the residences and apparently catching taxis home.

According to the students, follow-up protests are expected to continue on Wednesday morning, with a second meeting with management scheduled for 10:00.

Read more on:    nmmu  |  university protests  |  university fees

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