Students reject increase

2016-09-28 06:00
Hundreds of UKZN Pietermaritzburg Campus students marched to the provincial legislature on Tuesday where they delivered their memorandum to the speaker, Lydia  Johnson. The   students are calling for free tertiary  education.PHOTO: Ian Carbutt

Hundreds of UKZN Pietermaritzburg Campus students marched to the provincial legislature on Tuesday where they delivered their memorandum to the speaker, Lydia Johnson. The students are calling for free tertiary education.PHOTO: Ian Carbutt

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HUNDREDS of students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus on Tuesday marched to the provincial legislature rejecting the tuition fee increase of up to eight percent.

The students who dared the scorching sun handed a memorandum of their grievances and gave the provincial legislature seven days to respond failing which they said they will ‘occupy’ legislature.

Among some of the grievances stipulated in the memorandum handed over to provincial speaker Lydia Johnson is what they have described as police brutality and sexual assault of students on campus.

Reading the memorandum on behalf of the students, SRC President Sphelele Nguse said they rejected the proposed increment for 2017 and do not recognise the sitting Commission on Higher Education.

“As students, we are united in our call for free education and reject any form of increment. The state must begin to implement free quality education; in addition, we want to raise our utter disgust in the manner in which the public order police have recklessly shot at students using rubber bullets and teargas.”

Nguse said they have also lodged complaints about police with the office of the speaker in the province.

“The provincial government has a responsibility to ensure that it attends to the grievances raised by the students, hear our voice, and hear our demands.”

Nguse said they also want the university in collaboration with government and other stakeholders to find means to write off historical student debt.

“We further demand that police officials involved in the case of rape and sexual assault at the Pietermaritzburg campus are brought to book and the law takes it course,” he said.

Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF) student representative Bonginkosi Khanyile said they are tired of writing ‘love letters’ to the government.

“When we come back we are going to go and occupy legislature and I’ll be the speaker,” he said as he drew applause from the crowd.

“Last year we handed a memorandum, even today we are still handing another memorandum.

“This is for the last time, next time when we come we are going to occupy and pass free education as a law. The only thing politicians know is to eat breakfast, lunch and go home,” he said.

The students said they will not be returning to class until their demands have been implemented.

“Failure to do so, we are going to continue what we do best. Our mothers are single parents, they are nurses and teachers and they can’t afford to take us to school.”

Accepting the memorandum and signing it Johnson said the memorandum will be channelled to the relevant departments.

“All of us are aware that higher education is a competency of national departments.

“We’ll look into it and then engage with the students in terms of what can be done.

“At this stage it’s suffice to say we’ll forward the memorandum to relevant departments.”

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