CAPE TOWN – University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price on Thursday said he and the university supported the national #FeesMustFall movement.
Price met with media at the Sports Science Institute in Newlands after protest action had broken out across South Africa this week.
Price’s son, Ilan, was one of 29 students and activists arrested during the protests when they stormed Parliament on Wednesday and despite some on social media saying it must be “awkward in the Price household”, the VC stated his support.
“I am proud of my students and I am proud of my son,” he said. “If I could have, I would have joined the protests yesterday.”
He also commented on what happened when he found out Ilan had been arrested.
“Well his battery died so I only got to talk to him once he was released,” said Price.
“But he is fine.”
Commenting on the arrests of the protesters Price said the university supported them and would assist as best they could.
On Thursday, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – better known as the Hawks – said the students arrested in Cape Town for breaching parliamentary security do not face treason charges, despite media reports.
Statement on exams
Later on Thursday, Price put out a statement indicating that UCT would be postponing end-of-year examinations that were due to start on 27 October.
He said new exam dates would be set "in consultation with staff and students."
"The situation at the University of Cape Town and on all the country’s campuses is critical and without precedent. It calls for unprecedented action. The objective must be to ensure access to higher education," stated Price.
Price said that UCT would remain closed on Friday, and an open forum for members of the University would be held in the morning.
"In the short term: We will be meeting the President and his Ministers in Pretoria tomorrow and will demand decisive State intervention to ensure that students in need do not face a fee increase in 2016," he said.
He noted that, following this meeting, the UCT Council would meet on the weekend and he would present "proposals aimed at ensuring that: students in need do not face a fee increase in 2016; and that UCT’s comprehensive financial aid package for students in need remains in place."
Price appealed to the State to act with restraint, and offered his support to to a statement by the President of Convocation, Professor Barney Pityana, who said on Thursday morning that there could be no justification for the excessive use of force of the kind witnessed on television on 21 October 2015. Price quoted Pityana as saying " this brought shame to every South African."
Price addresses students
On Thursday afternoon, Price addressed students.
Price said that reduced spending on tertiary education by government posed problems for the institutions.
Max Price: "I wish I could be with you, I wish I could be on your side of the barricade because I believe in the student cause."— Iman Allie (@ImanAllie) October 22, 2015
Additional reporting – African News Agency (ANA)