Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Thursday met with student leaders at a round table discussion in Johannesburg where he apologised for his “students must fall” comment.
Nzimande had come under massive criticism after a video emerged where he was heard saying if students don’t accept his offer regarding a proposed university fee hike, he will start a campaign against the students.
“If these students don’t accept this, we will start our own movement, students must fall,” he said while laughing loudly in the video clip.
SRC President of Fort Hare, Busisiwe Mashiqa on Thursday confronted the minister.
“We’re in the midst of something serious regarding our future and you found a joke in it,” said Mashiqa amongst other student leaders attending a round table discussion about student issues.
She demanded an apology from him.
Responding to this, Nzimande referred her to Nguni saying: “Noma kufiwe, kuyahlekwa,” loosely translated to: “even when there is death, there is laughter.”
Nzimande said his comments should not have been taken seriously.
“It was a joke and I was joking with student leaders. I was not even aware that the cameras were on,” Nzimande said, adding that the students had first joked with him, saying they would started their own #BladeMustFall campaign.
“I cannot be minster of higher education and ask for the students to fall. If anybody was offended, I apologise unconditionally,” Nzimande said.
He jokingly added that the students should call for eNCA to stop airing the clip where the comment was made.