TUT students won't join protests, but only because they're still finishing the 2020 academic year

'Students are writing and only finishing next week Friday, so we won't be joining the forces now. But as soon as they are done, then we will join': SRC president

15 March 2021 - 15:51 By shonisani tshikalange
Students run for cover as the police use a water cannon to disperse the protesters in Braamfontein on Monday March 15 2021.
Students run for cover as the police use a water cannon to disperse the protesters in Braamfontein on Monday March 15 2021.
Image: Alaister Russell

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) SRC president Mike Mothuba said students were still busy with the 2020 academic year, so they couldn't respond to the "national shutdown" call.

"Students are writing and they are only finishing next week Friday, so we won't be joining the forces now because our students are writing. But as soon as they are done, then we will join," he said.

It was a normal day for TUT students in Arcadia on Monday, as some boarded buses heading to exam venues to write.

"The issue that other institutions are protesting about are the issues of 2021. Well, ourselves, we haven't yet reached the 2021 academic year. We are still completing the 2020 academic year right now, so we won't be joining for now," he said.

He said issues of finances at the institutions existed and they would engage with management.

"The issues are still there but remember, you can't go and strike without engaging the management about the issues. So now that our students are still completing 2020, we are in talks so that when we get to 2021, we won't need to strike because these issues will be resolved. Unless they don't want to fix the issues, [then] we won't have the choice but to strike."

Thabo Maake, EFF Students Command chairperson in Tshwane, said they responded to the call for a national shutdown.

Students on Monday shut down the Unisa Sunnyside campus with burning tires, blockading the entrance.

"We are in solidarity with the call for a national shutdown. Tomorrow the campus will remain closed. We have tried to engage with the management of Unisa - they don't want to speak to student leaders," he said.

Maake said on Tuesday they would move to Tshwane North College and the University of Pretoria to mobilise. He said they would engage with TUT to join when they completed writing exams.

Unisa's Tshwane SRC chairperson Inga Ketwa said they would not rest until higher education minister Blade Nzimande addressed all student issues.

"We are not going to succumb, we are not going to be defeated. We are going to mobilise many students until Blade Nzimande succumbs to our demand and all issues are resolved," he said.

Ketwa said they were going to make Unisa "ungovernable" to ensure that all student needs are met.

"All students must be able to register and have access to the institution. All historic debts must be scrapped."

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