Fee protests continue as students march on Luthuli House

2015-10-22 17:57
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PHOTOS: Thousands from Wits, UJ arrive at Luthuli House

Thousands of students crossed over Nelson Mandela bridge on Thursday in a march from Wits and the UJ to Luthuli House. See the pictures here.

Johannesburg - Thousands of students opposed to tertiary tuition fee increases flooded the streets of South Africa again on Thursday, the ninth day of historical protest action that showed no sign of slowing down.

Stretching from Cape Town and Eastern Cape cities to Johannesburg and Pretoria, diverse groups of students came together with one demand - 0% percent increase in fees. 

Thousands of Wits University students accompanied by a sprinkling of University of Johannesburg (UJ) students marched on the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg to deliver a memorandum to the ruling party.

By Thursday afternoon, the students had taken up position outside Luthuli House, where former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini addressed the crowd, demanding free education for all. 

He accused the media of portraying black people as savages, and called on ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe to accept a memorandum.

Mantashe, along with Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, and other senior officials, went down and stood with Dlamini and other student leaders.

There, it was demanded that Mantashe sit down to listen to their demands but he remained standing. The demands were then read out - that government releases the funds necessary to ensure a 0% increase, free quality education and the ending of worker outsourcing.

Mantashe signed the memorandum and left the stage.

Mcebo Dlamini then told the thousands assembled that on Friday there would be a march to the Union Buildings where President Jacob Zuma was expected to meet the senior management of various universities and students leaders to find a solution to the impasse.

In Cape Town, treason charges were dropped against six protesters, arrested after students forced their way onto the Parliament precinct on Wednesday while demonstrating against university fee hikes. 

Kevin French, Markus Trengove, Nathan Taylor, Chumani Maxwele, Kgotsi Chikane and Lindsey Maasdorp were arrested outside Parliament, and on Thursday morning reports surfaced they were to be charged with treason, along with trespassing and illegally gathering. 

The Hawks strongly denied these reports as "malicious rumours". But this was contradicted later on Thursday following the release of the six, plus 23 others arrested at the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus, by the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on a warning. French produced a charge sheet seen by media which listed three charges - "trespassing", "illegal gathering", and "high treason". 

The case against all 29 protesters was postponed to February 23.

The son of UCT vice chancellor, Max Price, UCT student Ilan, who was among the 23 students arrested on Tuesday, told media outside the court: "I was at the protest because I support the idea that this should be brought to national attention as a national crisis.

"I should say if you think this story is with me, you're missing the point of the protest. You should be interviewing the people who suffer the brunt of financial exclusion."

ANC veteran and cleric Frank Chikane, whose son was also arrested, said he was proud of him.

After the court matter was postponed, protesters in the Cape Town CBD played cat and mouse with police, as they marched on the Cape Peninsula University of Technology campus at Granger Bay believing management were holding a meeting.

They later turned back to the CBD and went in numbers to the Waterfront. 

Union Buildings

In Pretoria, Church Street was effectively shut down as a large group of protesters chanted "Union Buildings". Other protesters, however, maintained that students should only march to the Union Buildings on Friday.

Groups of protesters sat in the middle of intersections, causing traffic to build up. Some motorists hooted in solidarity.

Students also prevented employees at the offices of the Department of Higher Education and Training in Pretoria from leaving. They finally dispersed just after 16:00 after police arrived with a water cannon.

The building on Francis Baard Street houses the office of the Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who was not there at the time.

A group of students had taken up position in front of the building since 11:00 on Thursday, one of the staff members told News24.

Meanwhile, protests also continued at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University, Tshwane University of Technology, the University of the Free State, the University of Limpopo and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, among other campuses around the country.

Read more on:    uct  |  uj  |  cosatu  |  anc  |  protests  |  education  |  university fees

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