Cape Town - Hundreds of #feesmustfall students protested at the University of the Western Cape on Monday, occupying the university’s Life Science center.
Some of the demands, read out by student Busiswa Ngqamani, included that all student debts be scrapped, that no students be prevented from graduating because of outstanding fees and that students should not pay any registration fees.
Other demands included that students be able to register for the entire year in January instead of every semester, and that the university starts a process of buying houses in the surrounding community and make them UWC communes.
Student leader Kamva Rubulana said that the president’s announcement of the zero percent fee increment meant nothing to the students as they were not fighting for the zero percent increment but for the fall of all fees.
“Today we are continuing with the shutdown of campuses that we have started last week. The shutdown was started by the call stating that fees must fall. We must state that the president’s announcement that there will be a zero percent increment really means nothing to us because we are not fighting for the zero percent increment but we are fighting for the fall of all fees,” said Rubulana.
“The only way we can stop this shut down is if the debt problem of UWC students can be resolved, he added.
Vice Chancellor Professor Tyrone Pretorius said that the university welcomed engagement with societal issues; and that while they respected the right to demonstrate peacefully, they did not support any form of intimidation on campus.
“A university campus has to be a place where we welcome rigorous engagement with societal issues, and that we “respect the right of individual groupings to disagree and to voice and demonstrate this in different ways. While we respect the right to demonstrate peacefully… we do not support any forms of intimidation or victimisation by any grouping(s) on campus, said Pretorius.
UWC student Qamani Vonya said free education must be available for all students coming from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Free education must be there for all previously disadvantaged people who were not given the benefits of benefiting in the current South Africa, said Vonya.
Vonya added that high school students disqualify themselves from tertiary education even before applying to financial aid due to the long process which causes them to miss their registration deadlines.
Another student Zezethu Mgweba said that free education needed to be extended for university as well and not just primary and high school.
“The reason we are protesting today is that there is no free education. We have free primary schools and high schools but not university. Fees needs to fall. There needs to be a provision for people who can’t pay fees,” said Mgweba.
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