Fees protests flare at Eastern Cape varsities

24 August 2016 - 16:51 By TMG Digital

Students demanding free education for the poor caused disruptions at four university campuses in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday. Management of the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) obtained a court interdict on Tuesday preventing its student body from disrupting lectures‚ damaging property or intimidating and assaulting staff‚ reported the Daily Dispatch. Students from the university's Mthatha‚ Butterworth‚ and East London campuses have been arrested for public violence‚ house-breaking and theft‚ malicious damage to property and being in possession of petrol canisters.WSU registrar Khaya Maphinda said in an affidavit to the Grahamstown High Court: "Staff fled the campuses fearing for their personal safety and the safety of their vehicles and have not returned."The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) was also affected by protests‚ with lectures and tests postponed on Tuesday in response to protest action that saw about 300 students‚ many affiliated to the South African Students Congress‚ blocking an entrance to the south campus.Students were warned to avoid the campus on Wednesday.The student representative council posted an update on Twitter‚ saying that a mass meeting with students on Tuesday had ended with a resolution to submit a proposal to the presidential commission investigating free fee higher education for the poor‚ demanding a zero-percent increase.The meeting also demanded that academic activities be allowed continue and those who missed tests be allowed to write.The Herald quoted NMMU management as saying that a fees freeze would cripple the institution financially."As with all universities‚ NMMU is facing financial constraints. A no-fee increase [option] is not sustainable‚" said university spokesman Zandile Mbabela.Campus radio station Madibaz Radio tweeted a video‚ under the hashtag #NMMUShutdown‚ of singing students waiting for university management outside of the Council Chambers on Wednesday.#NMMUShutdownpic.twitter.com/4HewMMrszw— Madibaz Radio (@MadibazRadio) August 24, 2016Earlier in the day The Herald reported that protesters had blocked the entrance to South Campus.#NMMU South Campus entrance has been blocked by protesters #FeesMustFallReloadedpic.twitter.com/AA2pwAqJAP— HeraldLIVE (@HeraldPE) August 24, 2016

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