#FeesMustFall resurgence in Cape Town

19 June 2017 - 15:49 By Aron Hyman
University of the Western Cape Great Hall. File photo.
University of the Western Cape Great Hall. File photo.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Fees Must Fall protesters disrupted several exams at the University of the Western Cape on Monday.

The students are protesting against the alleged sacking of more than a hundred workers by a security company contracted by the university.

UWC spokesperson‚ Luthando Tyhalibongo‚ said they were “surprised” by the protests and were not informed of the students’ demands.

The disruptions were led by the student representative council (SRC). SRC president Asanda Blaki said they received their “mandate” from the national Fees Must Fall movement.

He said they were also protesting against the Department of Higher Education's decision‚ last year to‚ centralise the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and rape at universities.

“The implications of this centralisation arrangement means that the students have very little access to NSFAS because the financial aid offices on our campuses are in no position to give feedback to students‚” said Blaki.

“The centralisation model is really disadvantaging students nationally. It was tested in Durban University of Technology and it failed there‚ yet they continued to implement it.

“Most students don't know whether they will receive second semester funding. Some students are told NSFAS is no longer going to be paying for their residences‚ some students don't even know whether they've been accepted or rejected by NSFAS.”

Blaki said they were “very concerned” about the disruption of exams because they wanted students to “progress” academically. “But it's very important that these matters get addressed as well.”

He said they had planned for the protests to start after June 16 commemorations and that the protests would continue.

He also said that they were not expecting “good news” from the Fees Commission on the possibility of free education in South Africa. This is because of comments made by senior politicians such as Cyril Ramaphosa who said that it would not be affordable.

“This is a strategy that is being played by politicians to try and talk down expectations on the report‚” said Blaki.

Tyhalibongo said they have tightened security at the university to make sure that exams would continue.

“There was no indication that a protest was going to take place or that there was any disagreement with anything. There has been continuous engagement and working together on various projects‚” he said.

“The university's management is disappointed by the disruption of the examinations and also the inconvenience to the students who were writing exams.”

He said the exams which could not be written on Monday morning would be written at a later date.