'We will stop protesting if...' - UCT #FeesMustFall students

2016-10-06 18:16
Fees Must Fall student leaders at UCT address the crowd. (Paul Herman, News24)

Fees Must Fall student leaders at UCT address the crowd. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town - UCT students will only stop protesting if a "TRC" commission is established by Saturday and management commits itself to reducing fees at the institution.

Protesters were willing to open the campus on Monday, October 10, only if "phase one" of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission process for expelled students was established by Saturday, SRC candidate Mlingani Matiwane told a journalists and students on the campus’s Jammie (Marikana) plaza on Thursday.

The first phase would involve setting up the commission, choosing dates, and electing mediators to oversee it.

The campus had been closed since Wednesday, following altercations with private security guards on Tuesday night.

Matiwane said management decided to open the university on October 3 without an agreement being reached on the "TRC". Protesting students also wanted management to agree in principle to free education at the university.

Vice chancellor Max Price said on Tuesday the university agreed in principle to setting up an "institutional reconciliation commission". They could not afford to lose a week of classes so late into the academic year.

Why should expelled students receive amnesty?

A person in the crowd wanted an explanation for those opposed to the protests why expelled students deserved a reconciliation process.

UCT's #FeesMustFall movement spokesperson, Sinawo Thambo, said the destruction of property on campus was a reaction to the university’s “institutional violence”.

"If you think how Shackville was destroyed, that was an attack on students who were peacefully setting up a shack. So it was a response by us."

An amnesty process was needed to contextualise why certain things happened, and not to conduct a simple criminal analysis which absolved the university of responsibility, he said.

"It's not just for the students who supposedly burnt things out of nowhere. The institution will also be held accountable.

"Why did they deploy private security to peaceful protesters? Why did Max Price not engage the protesters? It will be an interrogation of why violence comes at an institutional level from UCT."

Private security, Open UCT

Matiwane and Thambo were critical of the use of private security guards on campus this week. They said they had a list of charges they would lay against them if they had the resources to do so.

One of the charges would be attempted murder. They claimed a private security official used a car to push a student onto the M3.

They rejected Price’s statement that most students wanted to get back to their studies. They said a poll he used to base his statement on was not conducted in any formal way.

On September 28, Price said faculty polls showed between 80% and 90% of the student body wanted to return to class the following week.

The two student leaders said the white majority of students would overlook the problems of the black minority. They said no buildings were damaged at the university during Tuesday night's clashes, as inaccurately reported by the media.

Three UCT student activists were granted bail totalling R2 500 by the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

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Read more on:    uct  |  cape town  |  university protests  |  education  |  university fees

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