UCT, UWC and CPUT shut down by protest [WATCH]



October 4, 2016
UCT, UWC and CPUT shut down by protest [WATCH]

DISRUPTIONS: UWC students protested for fees to fall by halting all classes yesterday: CREDIT: Ayanda Ndamane/Daily Voice

Lectures disrupted as protesters force students out of class.

Cape Town’s three universities were shut down by protesting students yesterday amid violent #FeesMustFall protests countrywide.

While the institutions are adamant that they will remain open, protesting students say they will continue to disrupt classes until management agrees to scrap fee increases next year.

Yesterday, the University of Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of Western Cape came to a standstill as the #FeesMustFall movement forced lectures to grind to a halt.

SAPS, Metro police and campus security were on high alert at all three campuses.

At UCT, six people were arrested for disrupting a class, while others blockaded the M3 highway causing massive traffic jams during morning peak hour.

Meanwhile, student leaders at CPUT have appealed to protesters, armed with knobkieries and sticks, not to damage property.

“We cannot damage our own institutions because we still have to come back here and continue learning – just when education is affordable or free for all,” a boy shouted to loud cheers.

Last year’s fees protests at CPUT reported estimated damages of R20 million.

The latest protest, now in its third week, comes after Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande announced last month that fee increases would be capped at 8 percent next year, and would only apply to those who can afford it. But students rejected the offer.

At UCT, protesters blocked entrances to the lower and upper campus at 6am.

Classes were meant to resume yesterday, following a two-week suspension after the varsity council voted at the weekend.

UCT’s Gerda Kruger says six people were arrested for disrupting a lecture in the PD Hahn building.

“If they are found to be UCT students, disciplinary action, including possible suspension, will follow,” she warned.

Captain FC van Wyk says the three males and three females, aged 20 to 21, were charged with intimidation.

“They will appear at the Wynberg Magistrates’ Court soon,” he says.

UCT Vice chancellor Max Price warned that the academic year was in “jeopardy”.

“The university has to remain open and the academic programme needs to continue in order for us to catch up work we have lost and to ensure that students complete their year successfully,” he said.

At CPUT, students also went around campus removing students from lecture halls.

“Comrades, no classes should continue here, we have to stand united. We cannot be fighting for all of you while you are in here pretending like nothing is wrong – out!”

Fire extinguishers were sprayed into halls to flush out students.

Protesters say they are still awaiting a response from the institution’s management on a memorandum they submitted last Friday.

Their demands include the reinstatement of two students who were suspended following last year’s demonstrations as well as no fee increases for next year, and the scrapping of historical debt.

Students stormed the admin office to demand answers from the Vice Chancellor, Prins Nevhutalu, who had harsh words for them for disrupting classes.

He says the memorandum has been handed over to the council for consideration.

“The issue of free education is not just for CPUT, it is bigger than us. Universities can only increase fees by eight percent,” he said.

“For the poor that benefit from the NSFAS and those whose parents earn less than R600 000 a year, the government will pay for them, which means no fee increment.

“The poor and the middle class will be provided for by the state and the rich must pay.”

But angry protesters were not satisfied with his response, and promised to force management to see things their way.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley says classes at all their campuses – Mowbray, Cape Town, Bellville and Wellington – were suspended for today.

“The resumption of classes will be decided later [today] and communicated to staff and students.”

At neighbouring UWC, hundreds of students went around campus removing students and teaching staff from class.

UWC’s Luthando Tyhalibongo says they commend yesterday’s non-violent protest.

He says students gathered outside the administration building, wanting a response on 40 demands emailed to the institution last week.

He says students were invited to a stakeholder meeting but did not respond to the emailed invitation. He added that the varsity will remain open.

The protests continue today and further class disruptions are expected.

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