An attorney and former founding member of the Athlone Students Action Committee (Asac), Peter Williams has advised protesting students to engage in debate with the government and not burn down buildings.
Peter Williams made this clarion call while speaking to students, who convened in the Belgravia High School hall for the 31st commemoration of the Trojan Horse Massacre in Athlone.
The anti-apartheid activist admitted that South Africa’s higher education is in crisis but maintained that the only way to resolve the crisis is through debate and dialogue.
Williams stated that students are lucky to have found themselves in the era of democracy – where they can easily talk to the government. He admitted that reverse would have been the case if the country is still under white minority rule.
“We disagree sharply with the methods you are using and we do not think that burning down your own institutions of learning is the way to go,” Peter Williams pointed out.
Universities nationwide are currently rocked by violent protests. This year’s #FeesMustFall protest was ignited by Higher Education Department’s 19 September announcement; that Universities must determine their own tuition rates for 2017, with increases capped at 8%.
Although calls for the suspension of the protests have continued to grow stronger, EFF’s leader called on more students to join the protests because now is the time to get that much-awaited free education, promised by the ANC in the Freedom Charter.
Juju also encouraged workers, students, the unemployed, shopkeepers, and security guards to be part of the “militant action” aimed at defending the country’s democratic gains.
In addition, Malema demanded the following: the removal of President Jacob Zuma; implementation of free education in 2017; exit of controversial Gupta family from South Africa; and removal of Shaun Abrahams as the National Prosecuting Authority boss.
On the other hand, the South African Students Congress (Sasco) demanded the following from government and universities.
- The president and deputy president must meet with students and attend to the crisis in less than a week.
- They must also make amendments to the fee commission’s terms of reference.
- Campuses must be demilitarized by university vice-chancellors, and extra security and the added police presence must be removed.
- The fee commission must release a preliminary report immediately.
- Higher education minister Nzimande must pronounce a sector-wide plan for the so-called “missing middle”.
- There must be a debt clearance for the missing middle by National Treasury and the private sector – and universities must commit to no exclusions for the next academic year.
- There must be amnesty for all arrested students and staff. A worker and student ombudsman must be established to fight against victimization.
- The implementation of an institutional transformation charter, with clear timelines.
- All worker issues must be resolved