Cape Town - Protesting UCT students spent most of the day at Rondebosch police station on Tuesday, after 23 fellow students were arrested for participating in the fee hike protest despite a Western Cape High Court order prohibiting them from doing so.
On Monday night, students forced their way into the university’s Bremner Building. And the protest continued on Tuesday morning with students again barricading the entrances to the campus and burning tyres.
Police reacted by arresting some of the students with some female students complaining they were manhandled.
Students mobilised support from their peers, by going from door to door in university buildings.
University workers also joined the protest, highlighting the outsourcing of services.
The march then proceeded down the main road, with students drumming up support from those living in residences.
The students were well prepared for the scorching heat, giving each other cold water and oranges.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane was booed by students as he tried to address them.
Maimane said: “This is not a fight between students, but against a government that is not addressing exorbitant fee increases and the chronic underfunding of higher education institutions and NSFAS.
“We cannot allow privilege to be perpetuated at universities by a government that is denying poor students an opportunity to improve their lives through education.
“This is a basic requirement for accessing an increasingly competitive job market.”
He left soon afterwards.
The protest proceeded to Rondebosch police station where the crowd had increased to thousands.
Protesters asked white students to form a human shield around the fence of the police station, saying “they won’t shoot at white students”.
Frustration grew as their fellow students were not released.
Police spokeswoman Constable Noloyiso Rwexana said on Tuesday: “The 23 students who were arrested for charges – including contravening of a court order, contravening of the Gatherings Act, Contravention of the Road Traffic Act, and hindering and obstruction of police – were released.
“One student was injured during the arrest and she was taken to hospital for medical treatment.
“Students are expected to appear in court.”
UCT spokeswoman Pat Lucas said the university’s Upper, Lower and Middle Campuses were closed for a second day because protesters barricaded entrance roads and the situation presented a safety and security risk to staff and students.
Acting vice chancellor Professor Francis Petersen said: “The executive is continuing to attempt to create a dialogue with protesters.
“After the Western Cape High Court issued the interdict to return UCT to normal operations on the evening of Monday October 19, some students who refused to leave the Bremner administration building were taken to Rondebosch police station and later released.
“We remain very committed to discussions with any group related to fees, outsourced services or any other matter.
“However, it is critical that the operations at UCT are unaffected by unlawful interruptions.
“Protesters who participate in unlawful behaviour are in contravention of the court order.”
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