Johannesburg - Thousands of students from the Johannesburg and Witwatersrand universities marched through the streets of Johannesburg on Thursday to deliver a memorandum to Luthuli House, the headquarters of the African National Congress (ANC) on Thursday.
The protesters occupied Pixley Ka Seme Street and sat on the tarmac, singing revolutionary songs next to the ruling party's offices. The students held placards with #OccupyLuthuli high as they walked from Braamfontein to the ANC offices.
The protesters listened attentively to their leaders, incoming Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) president Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, former Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini and Economic Freedom Fighters Wits chairman Vuyani Pambo who urged them to remain disciplined. “A revolution had come the whole year from RhodesMustFall to OpenStellenbosch and now we say #FeesMustFall, this is the beginning... Amandlaaa!” said Mkhatshwa.
However, Pambo demanded that ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe sit down next to the students on the road. Mantashe was accompanied by Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Sidumo Dlamini and SA Communist Party (SACP) deputy secretary Solly Mapaila. “SG sit down...SG sit down,” chanted Pambo.
The protesters screamed in unison and demanded that he sit down. They then booed Mantashe after realising that he was not taking a seat as requested. They then chanted: “This is not a rally... this is not a rally...” and “ANC must Fall...ANC must fall..” Dlamini grabbed the microphone in an attempt to calm the screaming protesters.
“Let us allow the SG to speak to us, we came to him, we did not ask him to come to us...let us not allow petty politics to come between us.” A female student was picked from the crowd to read the memorandum. The protesters demanded a no fee increase for 2016, free quality education and no outsourcing of staff at universities.
Earlier, a smaller group of protesters attempted to cross Nelson Mandela Bridge, but came across a huge police contingent and were forced to turn back. They regrouped again a few hours later and made it through the bridge to Pixley Ka Seme Street under heavy police presence.
Mkhatshwa told Mantashe to take the contents of the memorandum seriously. “This memorandum should be taken seriously and not be put away somewhere, or else we will continue to shut down this city and shut down Parliament,” she said to loud cheers from protesters. Mantashe signed the memorandum and left the podium.
Students are planning to march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Friday.African News Agency
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