Thousands of students today gathered at the University of Cape Town for a fourth day of protests, which have sprung up all around the country against proposed student fee increases that are scheduled to take place next year.
Students as well as a few academics took to the streets of the university in a slow march from the lower to upper campuses, where they gathered for speeches by fellow students, academics as well as an address by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Max Price.
UCT VC Dr Price said that he will work with police and prosecutors to have charges against 23 students dropped. The students were arrested outside parliament yesterday and police have said that they will be charged with trespassing and violating the Gatherings Act.
The students were ordered to appear in the Cape Town magistrate’s court this morning and protesting students at UCT had called for the charges to be dropped.
Academics have also shown support for the students.
“We stand solidarity with students and workers in respect of what’s happening here since Monday, we have decided to hold a march as well tomorrow to present demands to the university management,” Dr Kelly Moult, Vice President of the Academics Union of UCT explained.
The demands that will be handed over to management include the following points:
1. The interdict must go and the charges must be dropped (against the 23 students)
2. Police brutality must stop
3. Each member of the executive must account for their roles in the court interdict against students
4. The university must reschedule exams and communicate with academics and students on how they plan to conclude the year
5. The executive must engage with government and other stake holders to address the funding crisis
Amidst the protests UCT released a statement via email saying that the university will be meeting with the president and his ministers tomorrow in Pretoria, to demand state intervention to ensure that students do not face a fee increase in 2016.
Furthermore, the university’s exams, scheduled to begin next week, have been postponed to the following week.
Kabelo Gcabashe a student at the university, said that the protest shows the significance of the youth in the country and if they are unable to afford university tuition then they will be unable to attend (university) and this will have dire consequences for the country’s future.
The protests that have been going on throughout the country are the biggest student protests since 1976. VOC (Umarah Hartley)