CPUT protesters disrupt meeting, throw faeces

Cape Town – A meeting at the Cape Peninsula of University of Technology’s Bellville campus was disrupted when protesting students threw human faeces on Thursday.

Protesters gained access into the venue and threw human waste, CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said.

The meeting was intended to allow students to express their grievances to a committee not made up of management.  

Protesting students threw stones at police. Officers used stun grenades to disperse the crowd. No injuries were reported.

On Wednesday, protesters threw faeces in the auditorium as well as financial aid and security offices, she said.

The university had asked a mediation team called Interfaith to help it through the “tumultuous time”, especially after Thursday’s violence.

A general university assembly was scheduled for Friday.

On Wednesday, about 200 students marched to the vice chancellor's office with a list of demands, including free tuition.

They wanted charges against 78 students dropped, free tuition, no upfront registration fee, and a decolonised syllabus.

The students, some carrying sticks, waited outside the offices, and shouted at a private security company car arriving to reverse. The driver obliged.

Acting national police commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane condemned the continued violence and public disorder at universities.

The throwing of faeces in lecture halls was “inappropriate and demeaning”, he said in a statement on Thursday.

At the Malherbe residence of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg,  12 petrol bombs and two 5 litre containers of petrol were confiscated. 

UKZN said it had been alerted to increased protest activity on some of its campuses.

Phahlane said investigations into arson cases were at an advanced stage and arrests were imminent.

Student countrywide have been protesting since September 19, when Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that universities could decide their own fee increases for 2017, but that they had to be capped at 8%.

Poor students and those from families earning less than R600 000 a year would not pay an increase. Students from families above that income bracket would pay an increase.

However, groups of students countrywide wanted tertiary education to be completely free.

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