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Bid for UWC’s ‘normality’

Cape Town - UWC #FeesMustFall activists met with the university’s council on Sunday, following violent clashes between security and students on Friday.

This was confirmed by a #UWCFeesMustFall leader, Lindokuhle Manyoli.

Hundreds of UWC students called for an end to staff outsourcing and high residential fees during a UWC #FeesMustFall protest march, in which three security guards were injured. Picture: Jason Boud. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

Friday’s tension between management and students erupted into a full-scale confrontation that left three security guards injured.

Manyoli said they met the council after vice-chancellor Tyrone Pretorius had initially refused to meet them following his address at the student centre on October 23.

“What happened on Friday was spontaneous. We have never experienced a situation like this before.

“Many of our students were manhandled by security.

“When students wanted to go to the residential area, security used tear gas to prevent them from entering,” Manyoli said.

In a statement released on Friday, the university’s Student Representative Council (SRC) said material in the Financial Aid offices, including boxes with NSFAS application forms for 2016 and contracts of bursary holders, had been set alight.

“The student administration building, library, student centre and School of Government have been vandalised,” the SRC statement said.

“It is for this reason that the SRC wishes to reiterate that students should desist from violence and vandalism because it diminishes the seriousness of their struggles.”

According to the SRC, they met the chancellor, Archbishop Dr Thabo Makgoba, earlier that day to try to resolve the current challenges at the university.

“The SRC agreed that the chancellor would meet with the group of students protesting under the #FeesMustFall name. This intervention was for the institution to return to normality to allow for the examinations to continue as scheduled,” it said.

It was confirmed that UWC’s examinations would be postponed to November 9.

But Manyoli said the SRC had distanced itself from the protests and student grievances. He added that this was one of the reasons they wanted the council to be dissolved.

On Sunday, SRC leader Akhona Landu was in a meeting and not available for comment.

But a member of the SRC, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the violence at the university and threats of physical violence against opponents of the protest, had left many of them rattled.

There has been increased security and police presence at the university’s Bellville campus since violence erupted after a protest on Friday afternoon, in which UWC’s #FeesMustFall protesters handed over a long list of demands, including the scrapping of all university fees.

On Sunday, Landu said she and her colleagues had chosen to adopt a “low profile” for their own safety.

“We are, however, preparing to open schools tomorrow (today),” she said.

The UWC SRC, which is controlled by the SA Students Congress, said the aim was to open the university and see to it that students were prepared for their exams.

“This is the transition that we’re trying to make. From my side, the only thing we’re trying to do is to get the university to the state in which it is supposed to be,” said the SRC member.

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