#FeesMustFall: The protests around various universities at a glance

#FeesMustFall protests have erupted around the country as students across various universities heed the national student call for free education. Below is a snapshot and updates from just a few of the universities that have seen protests this week.

University of Johannesburg 
UJ resumed its academic programme today after the university suspended campus activity following student protests. The university stuck to its decision despite the arrests of 17 students at the Soweto campus yesterday morning. Students continued protesting at the campus, but were later dispersed by private security.

The students at the Auckland Park campus are meanwhile planning to march to the Methodist Church this evening at 7pm. The students say a vigil is planned to pray for an end to violence from police and private security and that their demand for free education is met.

Tshwane University of Technology 
TUT is in recess until October 10. The university made the announcement that it had extended the recess after #FeesMustFall protests began in late September. Things have been quiet at the university’s campuses, because students are currently on break.

University of Witwatersrand
After an agreement was reached between management and representatives of the student protesters on Tuesday night, police have been removed from inside the university grounds to the perimeter.

The decision was taken after SAPS clashed with peaceful protesters on Tuesday afternoon, dispersing them with rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas. The university also agreed to halt the academic programme until Monday and will help students organise a general assembly to be held on Friday. The assembly is a demand students have made in order to engage with management and the Wits community on protests, fees and the way forward.

The Wits #FeesMustFall group has also released a model of free education that students and academics have developed in order to tackle the fees crisis. The model will be handed over to treasury.

University of Cape Town 
Students who had been occupying the Steve Biko Building – where the student representative council has its offices – were removed by private security earlier this week. The university released a statement saying that on Tuesday, students had attempted to re-occupy the building and, when they failed, “several petrol bombs were thrown” and there were numerous fires set around campus.

In light of these events, the university has announced it will suspend the academic programme for the rest of the week. Students, meanwhile, have countered the university’s version of events saying that private security fired first.

Students at the university are demanding free decolonised education, that suspended and expelled students from earlier protests be allowed to return, and that there be a Shackville Truth and Reconciliation Commission regarding the treatment of the Shackville protest earlier this year.

University of the Western Cape 
Earlier today, student protesters blocked the gates to the university, and while a statement was released saying management had attempted to engage with students, the university announced that it has closed for the rest of the week with the intention of re-opening on Monday.

The students in the #FeesMustFall movement at UWC have a list of 40 demands which includes “free quality black-centred education” and the scrapping of student debt and registration. The students also say they should not be prevented from graduating on the basis of outstanding fees. The full list of demands is here

Cape Peninsula University of Technology 
CPUT has also suspended its academic programme with the aim of resuming classes on Thursday. The university announced an academic shutdown on Monday across both the Cape Town city centre and the Bellville campuses following protest action by students.

On Wednesday, however, students continued to protest and the Belville CPUT branch of #FeesMustFall persuaded private security guards to protest alongside them. The students are protesting in response to a national call by students for free education.

Negotiations between students and the vice-chancellor at the campus have reportedly broken down.

Rhodes University 
Rhodes University – or the University Currently Known as Rhodes (UCKAR) – has continued with the academic programme despite intermittent protests on campus. On Wednesday, students disrupted lectures before heading out into the street. Students have reportedly been protesting since the early hours of this morning, barricading various entrances to the university. Police have kept an eye on student protests today, but so far the police have not reacted.

Nelson Mandela Metroplitan University 
In the wake of NMMU announcing that it will indefinitely suspend campus activty, students have begun protesting for the university to re-open under the #OpenNMMU banner. The first demonstration happened today from 8am to 12pm and is set to continue at the same time on Thursday and Friday. Some students said, however, that the #OpenNMMU protest didn’t last as long as the group had hoped. So far, #NMMUFMF has criticised #OpenNMMU for being largely white and unsympathetic to the demand of free education.

University of KwaZulu-Natal 
UKZN is resuming its academic programme despite bursts of protest action that continue to happen around the university’s various campuses. On Wednesday, the university released a statement saying that, early in the morning, protesters at the Pietermaritzburg campus had set a dining hall in a residence building on fire.

Students have been sporadically protesting at the university’s Howard and Westville campuses in order to gain some traction on their demands. The students at the Howard campus have released their demands, which include government and the university management collaborating with students to provide free education, the dismissal of the vice chancellor and an end to the violence from private security and police.

The university currently has an interdict in place against against “unlawful protests, disruptful gatherings, demonstrations, mass action, intimidation or violence against any persons or property” around the university premises.

A number of students have been arrested, and some are waiting for their cases to be heard. Last night, religious leaders and lecturers attempted to lead a night vigil for students at the university, but police dispersed the group, telling them not to pray.

*this article will be updated with more information from more universities as information comes in. 

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

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