A member of the Fees Must Fall movement at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) has conceded that the student movement has lost control of students who have revolted on campus by looting resources and set buildings alight. UWC and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) remains on total lockdown following heated protest demonstrations on respective campuses this week. According to students who spoke to VOC News, the recent flare up in protest action from students is the result of the university’s failure to meet students on their concerns. Fees Must Fall campaign researcher, Mnqobi Ngubane said they have been unable to contain the violence.
“We have told the student population that we condemn the violent demonstrations that have been done on certain campuses. The situation has become uncontrollable. As a movement we have failed to control some students who went on and broke windows and set buildings alight,” Ngubane admitted.
Ngubane said the level of anger shown by students was provoked by a “inflammatory” letter written by UWC’s Chairperson of Council, Mthunzi Mdwaba. Ngubane told VOC that the letter denounced the progressive agreements which the students reached with UWC university management.
“The letter discredited our movement and the meeting which we had with the rector. The letter had just said that the meeting was invalid because he does not recognise our movement. Since then, students have become extremely uncontrollable and perhaps understandably so,” Ngubane added.
Ngubane added that the way in which police have addressed protesting students by using rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse crowds, is further fuelling the anger of students who just want to meet with university management on their concerns.
“Protest action is being portrayed as vandalism and violence but media does not speak about the violence of police. Police brutality is legitimised by society even-though police have been on the wrong side of the law as we have seen during these protest actions.
“Some of the police officers we’ve seen at UWC have been accused of sexual harassment and provoking students. The University management need to take heed of the fact that by sending police to deal with students is only making the situation worse. They need to meet with students and discuss their concerns as human beings,” Ngubane continued. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)