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After a day of violence, rubber bullets, shock grenades and thrown stones, the Wits #Fees2017 protest on Thursday received what felt like new momentun after a meeting in Solomon House which sought to unite students from different politcal organisations, endorse leaders and was opened by former #FeesMustFall leader Mcebo Dlamini.
Dlamini led a march of students from Education Campus to Solomon House in the afternoon. The protesters were allowed to march peacefully, escorted by Campus Control, with the police watching from a distance.
Dlamini was greeted at Solomon House, the place where last year he held centre stage as a student leader, with cheers from the students assembled.
But Dlamini quickly made clear that he was present only to support new leaders. Pointing at SRC president and Progressive Youth Alliance member Kefenste Mkhari,Wits Economic Freedom Fighters leader Koketso Poho as well as student activist Catherine Busisiwe Seabe, Dlamini said “These are the leaders that will deliver free education for us.”
Continuing, Dlamini declared that students “have the numbers” and if the government did not provide free education they would vote it out of power.
“If the ruling party does not provide free education, we are going to vote it out and put leadership that will prioritise education,” Dlamini said.
Dlamini was heckled by some protesters, including a group of female students near the front carrying sjamboks but he responded, “If you don’t like me it’s okay I don’t care I just want to work with you.”
Dlamini then handed the microphone off to Mkhari who emphasised that the student protest was peaceful and should remain so while condemning police violence. He said the movement was drawing a line against violence.
“Today we have separated the violent protesters from the non-violent protesters,” Mkhari said.
Worker’s representative Thandiswa Yaphi also spoke at Solomon House. She spoke about the unfair treatment of workers highlighting that Wits students should not allow the Matrix to operate until workers from Sizzlers, a cafe in the Matrix, who were dismissed are re-instated. She highlighted that insourcing was the solution for retail workers at Wits.
“There are no workers who are better than others, when I go to work I say I’m going to Wits not Sizzlers,” she said.
Seabe and the other student leaders then assigned some positions and broke the students into task teams that would deal with media, logistics and strategy. Dlamini also announced that a number of academics including struggle icon Ahmad Kathrada would be supporting the movement. The students are set to convene at Solomon House this evening to discuss a way forward for the protest.
Wits Vuvuzela, Universities shut down over #Fees2017. September, 19.
Wits Vuvuzela, Day 2 #Fees2017 roundup. September, 20.
Wits Vuvuzela, Third day of Wits #Fees2017 is shaken by clashes with the police, 21
Wits students have occupied and are holding a meeting in Solomon House–previously known as Senate House–having broken down a door to gain access after they were denied entry by security guards and police officers.
The students are expected to hold a meeting to discuss the way forward. Earlier, incoming Student Representative Council (SRC) president Kefentse Mkhari annouced that Wits would be shut down because students want “free education now”. This after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement that fees should increase by a maximum of 8% for students whose families make more than R600,000 a year.
The meeting is set to outline the merits of further protest. Outgoing SRC deputy president Motheo Broddie said they would not prevent people from speaking as all students were allowed to raise their voice at the meeting.
In the afternoon following Nzimande’s announcement, some students wearing Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) t-shirts prevented student activist and Economic Freedom Fighters member Simamkele Dlakavu from speaking. Dlakavu told Wits Vuvuzela that she wanted to raise a point of clarity regarding what they are going to be striking for. She said the end goal should be made clear because last year during FeesMustFall protests students were striking for free education and insourcing of workers but said the PYA ended the strike although workers had also not been insourced and only a zero-percent increase announced. “ I will only be shutting down for free education, de-colonised education and the dignity of black workers,” said Dlakavu.
Broddie denied that anyone was intentionally prevented from speaking but said the earlier meeting was “chaotic” and proper procedure was not followed.
Wits Vuvuzela, Wits students: “You can’t enter, You can’t leave”, September 19, 2016
Wits Vuvuzela, DASO responds to fee increment announcement, September 19, 2016
Wits Vuvuzela, Wits Executive releases fees announcement statement, September 19, 2016
Wits Vuvuzela, ASAWU releases fee increase statement, September 19, 2016
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The South Gauteng High Court today granted the University of Johannesburg a court interdict prohibiting protest action that contravenes university regulations.
By Sisa Canca and Nobathembu Zantsi
Twelve University of Johannesburg students have been barred from entering the campus after the institution was granted a provisional interdict against them in the South Gauteng High Court earlier today.
The interdict also prevents “unlawful demonstrations” by protesting students.
The university’s legal representative, advocate Dirk Vetten, said the university sought court assistance “in drawing the line”, as a result of the increased nature of illegal activities on campus. The university have charged the twelve suspended students with misconduct relating to a number of incidents on campus.
Yesterday, the university’s main auditorium was set alight, causing damage worth R100 million according to the statement released by the vice chancellor’s office. No suspects have yet been arrested or identified.
The judge said there was no evidence before the court proving that the burning of the building was done by the suspended students.
Judge Raylene Keightley gave all respondents present in court an opportunity to raise their concerns, explaining to the students that the order was for stopping “unlawful” action.
“The interdict prevents protest action that infringes on the right of other students, staff and visitors on campus and the university’s right to protect its property”, said Keightley.
Lindokuhle Xulu, one of the suspended students, opposed the interdict saying it infringes on their right to access education.
“We are chased away by bouncers every time we try to access campus to study and go to the library. Can the university guarantee us that we will exercise our right to education?” said Xulu.
Sandile Mdlongwa, one of the suspended students who was arrested last week following therecent surge in violent incidents on campus, questioned the validity of the institution blocking their entrance to the university.
“Is it constitutionally correct for academically deserving students to be deprived of their right to education?” asked Mdlongwa.
Xhamla Songwevu, claimed that unlawful protests happen because the university never grants them as students, permission to protest whenever they apply.
While deliberating on her decision, the judge asked for a provision to be added to the interdict that the suspended students be allowed to approach the institution for re-consideration of their current suspension terms.
Keightley stressed that the university should allow students access for academic purposes and reconsider the evictions of resident students.
In addition to protest action, the interdict prohibits activity by any person from blocking university entrances, threats of violence, obstructing the movement of other students, staff and other members of the university community.
The 12 suspended students will face a disciplinary hearing tomorrow in Kempton Park.
Meanwhile, the provisional interdict will remain in force for the next two weeks until the matter returns to court on May 31, 2016.
- Wits Vuvuzela: UJ students angered by death of fellow student; April 16, 2016
- Wits Vuvuzela: BDS protests outside Joburg High Court; May 19, 2014
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