#FeesMustFall protesters threaten polls

On Wednesday a group of student leaders called a media briefing at a park opposite the University of Johannesburg's Kingsway campus. Picture: @Pontsho_Pilane

On Wednesday a group of student leaders called a media briefing at a park opposite the University of Johannesburg's Kingsway campus. Picture: @Pontsho_Pilane

Published Jan 14, 2016

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Johannesburg - No free education, no elections! This is the newest slogan adopted by the #FeesMustFall movement.

As protests continued at universities across Gauteng on Wednesday, a group of student leaders called a media briefing at a park opposite the University of Johannesburg’s Kingsway campus.

The aim was to ensure that the movement’s demands were clear to the South African public, but also to combat university administrations that suggested the movement was aimless.

It was also to make a call to matriculants countrywide to gather at universities in each province to protest over registration fees.

When The Star asked student leader, Busisiwe Siyaya, whether the group would be mobilising to disrupt the local government elections, set for April, or if they would be opposing elections in other ways, she was unwilling to provide a comprehensive answer.

Siyaya would only say the movement's future plans were currently not for publication in the media.

“The public will have to wait and see. They must see what these students are capable of. (They are) willing to put their lives on the line for free education,” she said.

Read: Fears matrics may join #FeesMustFall

For the past week, groups of students have gathered at universities in Gauteng to fight against registration fees, with Wits having to shut its doors and cancel the registration process on Monday.

Through the use of dozens of private security guards and campus control officers, the campus was reopened for registrations on Wednesday morning, and Wits spokeswoman Shirona Patel said everything had proceeded smoothly.

While the student leaders, Siyaya, Sicelo Xulu and Ntokoza Moloi, claim that the movement has no true political affiliations, they have expressed extreme anger towards the ruling party over its failure to honour its promise of free tertiary education at the advent of democracy.

#FMF2016 We will stand for what is right #iol @IOL pic.twitter.com/4wko2mmc9P

— MojoIOL (@mojoIOL) January 13, 2016

“We are going to hold our government accountable, we are going to hold corporate accountable, and we will attain free education in 2016. We’re not asking for money, we’re asking to learn,” said Siyaya.

But it seems as though the group wishes to fill the universities with their supporters, as Moloi called on matriculants from last year to flood any campus and demand to register for free.

But anyone else who wished to join the movement was welcome, said Xulu.

“Even if Penny Sparrow wants to join us, (she can). The ANC are treating us like monkeys,” he said.

An altercation between students occupying Solomon Mahlangu House and security guards on Tuesday morning left the movement fuming over how Wits University has handled the recent protests.

Wits students ‘forcibly removed’ from res

Students claim they were molested and beaten by security guards who threw the first blows, yet security officers injured in the scuffle told The Star that it was students who became aggressive first.

The university has also denied these claims after viewing CCTV footage of the incident.

The eviction from Solomon Mahlangu House has become a sticking point for the movement, along with an alleged arrest of a student by police on the Wits campus on Wednesday morning.

The group has called on police to end their alleged brutality and join the cause rather than fight it.

According to Xulu, officers should know that with the average police salary, they would have no chance at sending their children to university with the current payment schemes.

Meanwhile, the University of South Africa (Unisa) was forced to close its doors in Pretoria on Wednesday because of protest actions by staff and students early in the day.

While Wits management had meetings planned with the Student Representative Council in the morning, at the time of publication, minimal feedback on how the meeting went was received.

#FMF2016 There are ligitamate problems that need to be addressed #iol @IOL pic.twitter.com/Rp91pS5RJG

— MojoIOL (@mojoIOL) January 13, 2016

Fees protesters spell out their demands

- We demand #FreeEducationNow.

- No registration fees (regardless of outstanding fees from previous years),

- Historic debt-repayment for students who are graduating this year to be scrapped and that they be allowed access to academic records.

- Food from all dining halls must be given to underprivileged and day students on campus (inclusive of weekends).

- Suspensions and disciplinary action due to the protest that took place in 2015 should be revoked.

- No police presence on campus.

- African students (international students) within the border of Africa should not pay upfront fees of 75 percent but rather it should be pushed down to 20 percent.

- Removal of upfront accommodation fees, and students should be allowed to move in upon registration.

- We are also stating that the negotiating process towards the insourcing of university workers must continue.

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