Fidelity Security Services guards manning the University of Pretoria ran for cover as more than 1, 000 students gathered to protest against the proposed fees hike for next year.
PRETORIA – Fidelity Security Services guards manning the University of Pretoria ran for cover as more than 1, 000 students gathered to protest against the proposed fees hike for next year.
The security guards were joined by UP security officials as they ran towards the administration block. They could be seen speaking on two-way radios, behind locked glass doors inside the administration block.
The students braved the hot weather on Wednesday, marching to different centres inside the university campus. Many were shielding themselves from the blazing sun with umbrellas.
The students did not chase the fleeing guards.
Earlier, leaders of the protesting students said that no learning or assessments would take place at the institution, unless the proposed fees hikes were rescinded.
“They must not increase fees, regardless of that six percent which Blade (Higher Education Minister Nzimande) gave yesterday. We don’t want a fee increase because our fees are already too exorbitant for poor students,” said Karabo Sekhukhuni, spokesperson for the UPrising students movement.
Tuks students have taken to their protests to streets. Chaotic scenes unfolding. NationalShutDown pic.twitter.com/K1kXgwROCp— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) October 21, 2015
“We have the poorest of the poor students at this university. The students who sleep in the library daily, all they had was the registration fee and nothing else. Students are very hostile to that six percent. We don’t understand how Blade is advocating for that fee increase,” Sekhukhuni said.
She said the campus would be continually shut down, until the students’ demands were met.
“We are here until our management agrees to our terms. Today the campus is shut down, but on UP terms. It will stay shut down on our terms, until they agree to our terms,” Sekhukhuni said.
Asked if the students were not concerned about failing their examinations due to lost academic time, Sekhukhuni said the exams schedules may have to be shifted.
“We are giving the management until Friday to come back to us. Part of our memorandum says if this protest takes longer than it should, then they must move all academic programming to a time when we can do it,” said the defiant student leader.
Some students who were seen wearing different political parties regalia were united in protest.
The University of Pretoria and that of the Free State on Wednesday suspended lectures and examinations as students at the institution joined other campuses around the country to protest against the fee increases.
More students join in protests at UP.FeesMustFall NationalShutDown pic.twitter.com/u0qH6ulBxe— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) October 21, 2015
The University of Pretoria said lectures would be suspended to allow “peaceful engagement on key issues affecting the institution”.
Students at TUT say they will match to the Dpt of higher education on the CBD on Thursday. But plans are not final. NationalShutDown— Lirandzu Themba (@LirandzuThemba) October 21, 2015
“Tests and examinations for the said date [21 October] have been rescheduled. No student will be compromised by these adjustments to the academic programme,” the university said in a statement.
“Consequently, staff are not required to be present on campus. Only essential support service staff will be required for duty,” stated the university.
The institution’s students took to social media this week under UPrising to mobilise for the protest. They held a night vigil at the main campus in Hatfield on Tuesday.
Protests against proposed fee increases started at Witwatersrand University last Wednesday and spread to other universities.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached to cap fee increases at six percent for 2016 was met with anger from protesters.
The students rejected Nzimande’s announcement and vowed to continue protesting for a no fee increase.