Student fee protests flare up at three universities

2017-10-23 20:41
The University of Cape Town's upper campus. (iStock)

The University of Cape Town's upper campus. (iStock)

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WATCH: Fire extinguishers discharged, windows broken during UFS fees protest

2017-10-20 12:54

Terrified students at the University of the Free State were left gasping for air after protesters discharged a fire extinguisher in their confined classroom during a semester test. Watch.WATCH

Cape Town – Student protests flared up again, causing chaos and disrupting academic activity at three South African universities.

At Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), a shuttle was set alight during ongoing protests at the Cape Town campus, while students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) occupied the upper campus library.

At the University of the Free State, an estimated 100 students delivered a memorandum to university management.

WATCH: Fire extinguishers discharged, windows broken during UFS fees protest

On Monday afternoon, South African Union of Students (SAUS) president Avela Mjajubana said the organisation was disturbed by reports that private security personnel assaulted and harassed students.

Mjajubana called on President Jacob Zuma to release the Fees Commission report as soon as possible to avoid "dire implications during exams and [at] the commencement of the next academic year".

Direct threat

He said the report should be released at the tabling of the medium-term budget by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday.

"No amount of brutality will silence the voices of students to demand what's due to them. Students are not violent, but their fight is for a genuine cause," Mjajubana said in a statement.

University of the Free State SRC president Asive Dlanjwa agreed and said that protest action could have been avoided if the Fees Commission report was released.

He urged SRCs at other universities to join the call for free education.

"Being quiet in the face of increments is irresponsible as it is a direct threat to the struggle of the call for free education," Dlanjwa told News24.

In a statement, the University of the Free State said additional exam opportunities would be provided for students who were "traumatised by events" at the university campus where security officials allegedly assaulted students.

The 36 students who were arrested on Friday were released from police custody on Monday morning and will be accommodated to ensure that they are able to write their exams, the university said.

Meanwhile, CPUT said it had to suspend its campus bus service until further notice after the attack on one of its vehicles.

The university has been at the centre of several student protests during the past few months, including instances in which a workshop was petrol bombed and a staff room torched.

At the end of September, the historic St Mark's Anglican Church in District Six was petrol bombed, allegedly by a CPUT student protester.

At UCT, the upper campus library was closed for most of the day following the disruption.

The university said it planned to reopen the facility by late Monday afternoon.

"Campus Protection Services is addressing the situation," the university said in a statement.

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