Angry UJ students protest against fee increases

Police used water spray on University of Johannesburg (UJ) students who were shaking the entrance gate to the Kingsway Campus on Monday afternoon.

Students earlier said they were going to break the gate down if they were not allowed access to the campus.

They said they would resort to anarchy.

Police were guarding one side of the entrance and the other side was manned by security guards, including a group of men dressed in black who refused to identify themselves. One of the men was wearing a jacket from the Nap Dance Club.

Dozens of protesters and students had been locked out of the Kingsway Campus on Monday.

Even students with student ID cards were not being allowed through the gates.

Security guards would not give a reason why the gates were locked. Some of the students barred from the campus had tests and exams to write on Monday.

They said security officials told them there was nothing they could do.

Meanwhile, a protesting student was “slapped” by police, according to students and journalists at the Kingsway Campus on Monday.

Police said one of the vehicles driving on to campus was being driven recklessly and scratched a police vehicle.

A policeman said the man in the car was taken away because a case of reckless and/or negligent driving had to be opened. He did not know if the man had been beaten.

Marshals at the protest had managed to get the angry crowd of protesters to turn away from the police.

They were lining the streets as cars went by on Monday afternoon.

About 200 students from the Doornfontein and Soweto campuses earlier arrived in buses to join the protest against fee increases.

Nanzley Omar, a journalism student, said the protest was “ridiculous”, adding “they did this earlier in the year and nothing came of it. So it’s pointless.”

University spokesperson Sonia Cronje said the situation was being closely monitored by the university’s protection services and the police, who were on hand to ensure that the protests remained peaceful and orderly.

Lazarus Maunatlala, Student Representative Council (SRC) president for UJ, told Mail & Guardian Online: “It is a peaceful protest. We are calling for management to revise the proposal.

“They must listen to the students who want a 0% increase and not any other. But we will consider negotiations if they are willing to negotiate.”


Meanwhile, students protesting against annual fee increases will engage in talks with management on Monday afternoon, the university said.

Cronje said the university would meet student leaders to discuss their concerns.

“The university has had ongoing consultations with student leadership throughout the year. These have included discussions on the strategy of the university and the role of financial viability and fee increases,” Cronje said.

Prior to the protest, management had received no specific request from the SRC to discuss the opposition to fee increases.

“One of the implications of the university’s agreed strategy and vision is fee increases. Another factor has been the wage increases and costs of harmonisation of salaries, following the merger.

“All of these take place at a time when the Department of Education subsidy remains pegged at 5%. This means that the university must complement the subsidy by adjusting its other income,” Cronje said.

She said the university remained committed that no poor student who met the requirements to study at the university would be denied a chance to study on financial grounds.

“The university has set aside significant resources as part of a Needy Student Fund. The university is also adjusting bursaries to take into account the increases,” Cronje said.

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