Wits Fees Must Fall members say they are still around and are still saying that the end goal for Fees Must Fall is free education. This week Wits management was able to extend a court interdict against some members of the movement.
Members of the student movement Wits Fees Must Fall (FMF) have vowed to continue protesting for free education even after a court interdict barring them from protesting at Wits University has been extended to April 25.
“We are a radical political movement, the interdict that is there will not scare us,” said Wits FMF member, Phethani Madzivhandila, regarding the Wits University interim court order against some Wits FMF students.
The initial interdict was granted by the South Gauteng High Court on the January 15 and it was served after some Wits FMF students were forcefully removed by heavily armed security from Solomon House (formerly known as Senate House).
The interdict prevents Wits FMF students from “unlawfully occupying Senate House or any other offices, buildings, facilities or lecture halls; disrupting the normal activities of the University including registration, classes, lectures, tutorials” or “causing damage to property,” amongst other things.
The interdict was later extended to April 25 when members of Wits FMF will have the chance to challenge it in court.
“The interdict was extended because of some legal issues … 25 April that’s the day when there is going to be a court case between Wits and Fees Must Fall,” Madzivhandila said.
Madzivhandila also said that if need be they would continue to protest and occupying building regardless of the interdict because “students are getting excluded.”
Fees must fall protests began last year in October when students around the country protested a 10% increase in higher education fees for 2016. After no increase in fees was announced by the President Jacob Zuma, some students continued protesting demanding free education.
The Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) has since launched the #Access campaign as part of its humanitarian fund which rescues financially excluded individuals.
Madzivhandila criticised the SRC’s #Access campaign to raise R10 million for the “missing middle”, saying it would not do enough to help all struggling students. He added that the point of #feesmustfall protests was to change the whole higher education system, not accommodate it. He said “the only remedy” to stop yearly financial exclusions was “free education.”
Alongside raising money to sustain the movement, Wits FMF held a recruitment drive during O-week, engaging with students about decolonisation, free education and outsourcing.
Madzivhandila said the movement was still committed to attaining free, decolonised and de-commodified education.
“Fees Must Fall hasn’t fallen, we are still around” he said.