Campus chaos

Echoing recent protests at the University of the Witwatersrand, some students from the University of Johannesburg ran amok this week, protesting against a 14% fee hike proposed by the institution as a way of harmonising staff and academic salaries. By the end of the week, 43 students had been arrested and released on bail, and are expected to appear in court in the next few weeks.

The week bought ugly pictures of police officers firing rubber bullets at cowering students. Some were injured.

Castro Ngobese, national spokesperson of the Young Communist League (YCL), said the organisation condemned the arrest of the students.
“As the YCL we strongly believe that students have every right to defend access to education and that this should be protected,” he said.

Wits vice-chancellor Loyiso Nongxa told the Mail & Guardian‘s education correspondent David Macfarlane this week that if university authorities had to call in ‘outside help” such as the police, ‘this suggests a failure in the whole university community”.

He said that ‘universities are not islands of privilege” and, ‘The laws that apply to the whole of society—regarding the safety of people and damage to infrastructure, for instance—apply to us as well.”

While students certainly have every right to defend their access to education, they do not have a right to damage property or pelt motorists with stones. Debate, surely, is the only way to resolve this situation. The two sides need to start talking.

Al Gore
The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize went jointly to this former United States vice-president and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about climate change, and “to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”. If only Gore were running for the top post this time round ...
Tornado alarmists
The message is certainly “Not so fast!” to every person who forwarded this week’s hysterical email warnings about a tornado—some even said hurricane—that was supposed to hit Jo’burg. The emails caused panic and traffic jams. To all those alarmists we say: remember Chicken Little ...

Most-read stories
October 4 to 10

1. The desperate bid to shield Selebi
New information has emerged that flatly contradicts the presidency’s denial that President Thabo Mbeki acted to shield police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi by suspending National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli.

2. A storm’s a-comin’, but it won’t be a tornado
Emails suggesting that a severe storm with a tornado was to hit Johannesburg and surrounds on Monday afternoon were “greatly exaggerated”, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) said.

3. ‘Nation has been misled’ over Selebi
South African President Thabo Mbeki came under mounting pressure over the weekend to explain his suspension of the country’s top prosecutor, a controversial move weeks before a crunch vote on his leadership of the African National Congress (ANC).

4. Deputy President Sexwale?
Presidential hopeful Tokyo Sexwale’s last-minute campaign in the succession race is gaining momentum and is said to be rattling both the Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma camps, which are preparing to barter with Sexwale.

5. ANC succession race gets dirty in final leg
The battle for the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) is becoming ever dirtier and fuelled by paranoia in the final weeks before delegates vote for the as-yet undeclared candidates.

6. Australian media taunt All Blacks
Australian newspapers on Monday sought to ease the pain of the Wallabies’ Rugby World Cup exit at the hands of England—and the boot of Jonny Wilkinson—by taunting the All Blacks.

7. World’s largest ‘diamond’ denounced as plastic fake
After more than a month of speculation, the “world’s largest diamond”, said to be twice the size of the famous Cullinan diamond, was on Friday denounced as a “piece of plastic” by the man at the centre of the drama over its discovery.

8. Zimbabwe a disaster, Merkel tells Mbeki
President Robert Mugabe presides over a disaster in Zimbabwe but should still be entitled to attend a forthcoming Europe-Africa summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday.

9. Pumas and Boks turn up volume of insults
Argentina and South Africa have pumped up the volume in a war of words ahead of their World Cup semifinal on Sunday by exchanging mutual insults.

10. Arms: Germans squeeze Mbeki
A German request for help in investigating bribery in the arms deal—a political hot potato that will again test the independence of the criminal justice system—has reached South Africa.

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