South Africa student protests spread with calls for national varsity shutdown

Reported By: Kalden Ongmu WION
Johannesburg  Published: Mar 15, 2021, 12:51 PM(IST)

Students protest in South Africa Photograph:( AFP )

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“The failure of (higher education) minister Blade Nzimnande to respond positively to our demands as students has left us with no option but to declare a national shutdown effective from Monday, until all demands are met,” South African Union of Students (SAUS) said in a statement.

 

The protest over tuition fees in a South African university is spreading nationally, with the students union calling for shutting 26 public universities across the country from Monday.

“The failure of (higher education) minister Blade Nzimnande to respond positively to our demands as students has left us with no option but to declare a national shutdown effective from Monday, until all demands are met,” South African Union of Students (SAUS) said in a statement.

The union also condemned the brutality and violence by the South African Police Services (SAPS), which led to a killing of one civilian during protests against financial exclusion.

SAUS is demanding financial clearance and the clearance of historical debts for all students to ensure their smooth registration for the academic year.

It wants justice for the family of a person who was killed by police during protests in Wits University, and an end to police brutality. Other demands include immediate provision for post-graduate funding and allocation of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding for first time or new students. NSFAS is a government-run scheme that provides financial aid to poor undergraduate students.

SAUS also demanded zero percent fee increase for the 2021 academic year and sought free, quality, decolonised education for the poor and the working class.

It said the Student Representative Council (SRC) leaders are in support of the decision for the national shutdown of universities, and has urged all students across the country to join in the fight against financial exclusion. SRCs are the highest decision-making student body in universities.

In a separate statement, Senior Executive Team (SET) from the Wits University said they have met with the SRC and they will deliberate their demands with the members of the council and other stakeholders before engaging with the SRC on Monday afternoon. 

It also confirmed that University South Africa (USAF) will be meeting with Vice Chancellors of 26 public universities on Monday to discuss some of these issues. The outcome of the meeting will be announced to various constituencies. 

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