Joburg shops close as students embark on national shutdown calling for historic debt to cleared
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Johannesburg - Students burnt tyres and shops were forced to close in Johannesburg as student protesters embarked on a national shutdown over tertiary funding on Monday.
This comes after the South African Students Congress (Sasco) declared a national shutdown on Saturday.
The calls for a national shutdown was also supported by the South African Union of Students (SAUS) on Sunday, who called for a national shutdown at all 26 public universities from Monday following meetings with Student Representative Councils (SRCs).
“All 26 university SRCs have supported this decision unanimously. The shutdown will continue until our demands are met,” SAUS Deputy Secretary General Sibusiso Twala said.
The call for a national shutdown comes amid ongoing student protests at Wits University, University of Johannesburg (UJ), the University of Limpopo, the University of Cape Town and the Central University of Technology as students vowed to continue the fight for free higher education.
The students are calling for historic debts to be scrapped and free registration for all students in 2021, amongst other demands.
On Monday, the national shutdown kicked off in Johannesburg as student protesters blockaded roads and burnt tyres outside UJ’s Bunting Campus in Auckland Park.
JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla told The Star that early on Monday morning at around 7am, the JMPD received reports that there were students picketing outside the SABC offices on Henley Road, Auckland Park.
“Soon after the road was cleared and we haven’t had any signs of protesting students in that area and in Braamfontein either,” Fihla said.
Last week, at Wits University, students gathered on De Beer Street in Braamfontein, where Mthokozisi Ntumba, an innocent bystander, was killed when shots were fired at the hands of the police.
After midday, Wits students began moving through Braamfontein calling for other students to join the action.
The protesting students further went around and closed down numerous shops in the city.
Meanwhile, Wits University said that the academic programme would continue online and that Wits remained fully operational. The university further appealed for calm during protests.
“We encourage all parties to remain calm, to exercise maximum restraint, and to attempt to resolve issues through dialogue and engagement. We remain committed to engaging with student leaders to try to resolve these matters at the institutional, sectoral and national levels,” the Wits Senior Executive Team said in a statement.
Several institutions across the country will remain closed on Monday as students take their demands to the streets.