- The SA Union of Students says it will meet Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande this week.
- The union says if Nzimande does not give fruitful answers in response to their demands, they will march to the Union Buildings.
- Wits University's SRC says it has decided to start allocating the R4 million it has raised to assist students.
As student protests continue at higher education institutions, the student representative council (SRC) at the University of the Witwatersrand says it has raised almost R4 million to assist students in need.
On Tuesday, SRC president Mpendulo Mfeka said the funds would be allocated to students who were at risk of being financially excluded, and those who were unable to register for the 2021 academic year due to financial difficulties.
Mfeka said, while it was the SRC's target was to raise R21 million, it decided to start allocating the funds because the registration period would close.
"If we wait until we have R21 million, we won't be in a position to assist these students," Mfeka added.
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News24 reported in February that Mfeka said the SRC reached out to non-profit organisations and companies for support as part of its efforts to reach the R21 million target.
He said the SRC decided to step in and raise the funds because it felt student debt did not only affect them, but their families too. Some looked forward to graduating so that they could be breadwinners at home.
Mfeka said on Tuesday:
He said donors would be made public at a later
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Wits has been at the centre of protests in recent weeks after students took to the streets to fight for free, quality and decolonised education.
Protests in Braamfontein took a tragic turn two weeks ago when a passer-by, Mthokozisi Ntumba, was shot dead, allegedly by police who were dispersing students.
The South African Union of Students (SAUS) convened a meeting with the higher education department to submit its demands.
It later called for a national shutdown.
Meeting with Blade Nzimande
SAUS national organiser, Yandisa Ndzoyiya, said the union was expected to meet with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande this week. If there is no fruitful outcome, they will take to the streets and march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Ndzoyiya said students from all higher education institutions were being mobilised in preparation for the meeting.
He said the union had been unable to meet with Nzimande and that his deputy, Buti Manamela, was not giving them "satisfactory responses".
Ndzoyiya said the minister was expected to bring a delegation to the meeting. Student bodies and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) were expected to be part of the engagement.
He said their demands remained that student debt should be scrapped, that every student should be registered, and that financial exclusion should be stopped. He added that the union also believed there should be alternative funding to assist post-graduate students.
Meanwhile, Mfeka said the Wits SRC was expected to
hold a mass meeting with students at 16:00 on Tuesday.
He said resolutions from the mass meeting would determine a way forward.