Police have shot rubber bullets and fired teargas as a #FeesMustFall protest at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus turned nasty today.
A number of protesters have also been arrested. Students said they wanted an education and wanted to study, but they were insisting on a 0% fee increase.
“We cannot continue to go to class if things are like this. Ultimately, we want the government to announce the 0% fee increment,” student representative council deputy president Sunshine Myende told News24.
A number of metro police, South African Police Service officers and private security guards were on the campus today.
Myende said students blamed the university’s executive management committee for the chaos on campus.
“We have issues here for a long time. From the appalling conditions of our residence to our shoddy curriculum, the university is not listening to us.”
She said students were angry, but were willing to keep the peace, for now.
“People must not get this perception that we do not want to study. We do, we want to get our degrees.”
Myende called on the government to provide leadership in the debate over tertiary education fees.
University spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said that classes at the Edgewood, Nelson Mandela Medical School and Westville campuses had not been affected. He said tests had been disrupted on the Howard College and Pietermaritzburg campuses.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced on Monday that universities could decide their own fee increases for 2017, but that these could not exceed 8%. He said the government would find the money to help financially needy students.
Students from households with an annual income of up to R600 000 would get subsidy funding to cover the gap between the 2015 fees and the adjusted fee for 2017, for increments up to 8%.
This meant that all National Student Financial Aid Scheme-qualifying students and the so-called “missing middle” would have no fee increases in 2017. The latter are students whose families earn too much to qualify for aid scheme funding, but who were unable to pay for tertiary education. – News24