EFF leader Julius Malema has weighed in on the escalated #FeesMustFall protest at the Witwatersrand University – which took a different and fierier dimension today.
This time, Malema urged all students nationwide to join the protest because the only time to get the long-awaited free education is now. He also encouraged the students not to allow police brutality suppress the noble cause, insisting that free education is possible.
“They won’t kill us all, victory is certain. All students must join the #FeesMustFall protest in all institutions of higher learning; because the time for free education is now. The country should join the peaceful students’ protest, we demand free education now,” he told students.
At least two people were arrested today when police moved in to enforce a court order on public gatherings at Wits University. This prompted the protesters to attack police vehicles with rocks and also overturn another.
EFF leader at the Witwatersrand University Busisiwe Seabe was among those arrested after an argument broke out between her and the police officers. Student leader and ANC member Mcebo Dlamini, however, escaped arrest after being shot at and assaulted by police officers.
Police officers were also seen firing stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas at hundreds of students who marched through the university’s campus; chanting and dancing the “toyi-toyi” protest dance.
Witwatersrand University VC Threatens Protesters
Meanwhile, Wits Vice-chancellor Wits Adam Habib has threatened to shut down the university should the warring students continue to wreck havoc on the university’s property, staff members and students who want to study.
“If we do not get this right tomorrow, we have no choice but to close the university, which will compromise the 2016 academic programme and the lives of all 37 000 students. It means that all students will have to move out of residences before the end of the week.
It means that students on financial aid, scholarships and bursaries may lose their funding. It means that Wits will not be able to enrol first years in January – we have 75 000 applications for 2017 already.
The consequences of a shutdown are farreaching and such a decision should be one of last resort. I, therefore, plead with you to work with me once more to try to save this university,” he pleaded.
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%.