Fee protests at Cape universities, rubber bullets fired at PE students

2015-10-21 11:01
A protesting UCT student (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

A protesting UCT student (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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WATCH: Police fire rubber bullets, teargas to disperse protesting NMMU students

2015-10-21 09:51

NMMU students were shot at by police with rubber bullets and teargas during the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University protest against tuition fee increases. WARNING: Explicit languageWATCH

Cape Town - Protests by students against fee increases at Western Cape universities were beginning to stir on Wednesday morning, while police in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape fired rubber bullets at stone-throwing students.

At Stellenbosch University, students gathered outside the engineering faculty and then made their way into the building to "shut it down".

The faculty was later evacuated, with students leaving classes. An altercation later ensued between a protester and a lecturer, the student claiming she was pushed by the lecturer and stated: "I am not afraid of you, white man."

A meeting was also expected to take place between university management and protesting students at 14:30.

Responding with force

Stellenbosch student representative council (SRC) spokesperson James de Villiers, in a statement on Wednesday, said the council were "extremely upset" at the violent manner in which management had responded to student concerns on Tuesday.

"We call on management to [publicly], and via mass e-mail, apologise to all students for not trying to listen, but rather to respond with force. Furthermore we call on all students to join in the march later today to show solidarity with what so many students have been fighting for," he said.

"We continue to call on the university to listen to students and have asked that they organise an open meeting with students this afternoon. We are extremely upset that it has taken the university so long to respond to this issue as well as the university single-handedly being responsible for the physical abuse so many students experienced yesterday."

The Stellenbosch SRC called on all students and the general public not to judge the issue from just one side.

"This issue is about exclusions from higher institutions of learning. It is about fee increases, but it is also about a university culture that excludes," he said.

"Lastly, we'd like to honour all students for their selfless battle... These are students that this university can be proud of because of their non-violent approach and ultimately their caring attitude."

UCT protest

At the University of Cape Town, small splinter group were seen going between residences to pick up workers.

Around 20 students were also sitting in the road next to the Jammie Shuttle on lower campus, blocking the road. The scene was quite, with one police van looking on in the vicinity.

At Hiddingh campus in Gardens, around 30 students and workers had blocked the entrance with dustbins, benches and tape.

They were peacefully singing and holding posters.

Later in the morning, a few hundred students had assembled on lower campus, having collecting cleaning staff for their protest. They then left campus and indicated they would be heading to the security building. Initially they were set to march to the Newlands stadium, where accounting exams were expected to take place.

The exams themselves have since been cancelled, according to a tweet from one student.

Protests were also expected to take place on Wednesday at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and the University of the Western Cape.

PE protest

Meanwhile, at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, police spokesperson Brigadier Marinda Mills said police fired rubber bullets at students who threw stones during a protest at the varsity on Wednesday morning.

Nobody was injured or arrested.

The protests flared up after students at Witwatersrand University last week protested against a 10.5% fee increase for the 2016 academic year.

The Wits protests sparked protests on campuses across South Africa, including those in the Western Cape, Rhodes University in Grahamstown, the University of Pretoria, and the Tshwane University of Technology.

The SA Students Congress has called on all students to embark on a nationwide mass action on Wednesday against fee increments until student demands were met.

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  cape town  |  protest  |  education  |  university fees

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