A week of university protests
Student movements around the country have taken to the streets to protest and express their grievances at the lack of accommodation and funding for needy students. Here is a roundup of most most of the activities for this week.
This week student movements around the country all embarked on numerous protests highlighting issues of financial exclusion, lack of accommodation for black students, outsourcing and clearance of historical debt.
On Wednesday night a Wits University bus was set alight outside Knockando residence. No one has claimed responsibility for the fire and the university was investigating.
The protests kicked off at the University of Cape Town (UCT) when the Rhodes Must Fall movement erected a shack on Upper campus to protest against the lack of accommodation. The university sent private security and police to demolish the shack and RMF students responded by burning “colonial” paintings, a car, Jammie Shuttle bus and an administrative building on Wednesday.
A member of RMF who was present when the torching of the paintings, vehicles and administrative building happened explained the motivation for the burning: “The burning of the pictures is twofold, the one is that black people are very angry to be found in an anti-black institution and expected to just exist, or rather not really exist. And then to be confronted with these colonial artworks in the same way as being confronted with the Rhodes statue.”
“This speaks to the idea that black people are not taken seriously. So you can remove a statue but you think there is no relevance in thinking about the artwork or other aspects of the space which black people have to participate in,” said the RMF member.
The RMF member argued that burning down buildings was a resolution of the question of Frantz Fanon’s “revolutionary violence.”
A group of eight students were arrested and later released on bail after they were dispersed from Upper and Lower campuses using stun grenades and rubber bullets.
Also in Cape Town, #UWCFeesWillFall students at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) occupied their student centre and handed over a memorandum to UWC director of legal services Shervaan Rajie on Wednesday. The movement is calling for academic programmes to be suspended so that matters relating to financial exclusion, the clearing of historical debt and accommodation could dealt with first.
According to the #UWCFeesWillFall students nothing has changed at the university, “The university … made a promise that they will talk about the issue of free registration and historical debt being cleared, but instead we are seeing students … being asked to pay R4 800,” #UWCFeesMustFall member Monde Nonabe told GroundUp.
A member of the #UWCFeesWillFall movement who wishes to remain anonymous out of fear of victimisation by the university said that he felt historically black institutions such as UWC were not given the same level of attention as other historically white institutions.
At the University of KwaZulu Natal workers, with students in solidarity, fighting to be insourced by the university closed down the institution resulting in the university getting a court interdict against the workers.
On Thursday at the ‘University Currently Known as Rhodes’, students from the Black Student’s Movement joined the nationwide protest against financial exclusion under the hashtag #nisixoshelani.