File photo: David Ritchie/ANA
Cape Town - Violent protests spread to UCT as chaos erupted after a group of students blocked entrances, slashed the tyres of buses and flung human faeces in a lecture hall.

Protests followed the angry reaction from students to the university management’s rejection of their demands handed over at a mass assembly on Wednesday.

Vice-Chancellor Max Price called the urgent assembly at the request of the outgoing Student Representative Council after a council meeting last week.

Price said six people were arrested – their status as students was unconfirmed following the blocking of entrances on the campus and the vandalism of buses.

Student activist Simone Cornelius said that students’ demands included a 0% fee increase to be pronounced by an emergency Council Sitting, before exams begin next week.

“What has happened on campus was a reaction to the university management’s actions and what may happen going forward will be determined by their actions. 

"Yesterday (Wednesday) we submitted our demands and also asked them to shut down the university for one day, assist us with buses and march to Parliament which they rejected,” said Cornelius.

She said students were let down by this decision as they wanted a unified front to go to Parliament and hold government accountable.

The university’s proposed fee increases, which have not yet been approved, is an 8% tuition fee increase, and a 10% residence fee increase. 

Price said the university did not agree to the demand to march as only a small percentage of students wanted it and it would be forcing the will of a few on the many who wanted to write exams. 

Private security would remain on campus to protect university property, said Price, and an interdict obtained against unlawful protests would remain enforced, to ensure students could conclude the academic year.

A University of the Western Cape (UWC) student activist who asked to speak anonymously, said the campus was continuing as normal while the SRC elections were under way. 

He said after the election results, students would meet to discuss the way forward with regard to the larger #FeesMustFall movement this weekend.

UWC had not militarised the campus but there was concern that what was happening on the neighbouring CPUT Bellville campus might spark tensions on their campus, he said.

UWC student Songezo Mazizi said the students were still calling for the return of the 146 security personnel dismissed by the universityoutsourcing.

Stellenbosch University SRC spokesperson Leighton September said they supported the call for free education and their fellow CPUT students’ call for the demilitarisation of their campus.

“Our university had also sent out communication of a proposed increment next year which has caused some unease on our campus. 

"Students have come to us, fearing financial exclusions and even mentioning protest because of this,” said September.

Requesting her name be withheld, a Stellenbosch University student said student activists still had an interdict against them for their activism the previous year.

“This has caused some anxiety and distress as students fear being shut down immediately by the university and jeopardising their futures, causing their number to decrease. 

"Students requested a meeting with management and all the role players over the increment proposal, but they said a municipal bylaw prohibited such a meeting and it always becomes uncivilised,” she said.

She said the students felt as if they were under surveillance due to an increase in security cameras on campus.

Stellenbosch University spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the university had to adhere to legislation applicable to all events.

“Reports surfaced alleging that the university either ignored the ‘request to wait for the Fees Commission Report’ or made a ‘unilateral’ decision in this regard,” Viljoen said.

“In the interest of transparency, the university decided to inform students and other stakeholders about the proposed increase.”

Student leader Aviwe Gwayi said it had been quiet at CPUT.

Cape Times