Shortly after these figures were contested by students, the university went said that discussions around fees had not yet begun, as they were waiting for the SRC election to be resolved.
On 19 October, Prof. Cheryl de la Rey, the university’s vice-chancellor, issued a statement in which she claimed that Student Affairs had met with the SRC and that at the meeting “the university agreed to the alternative proposals for initial payments as submitted by the SRC last week, bringing the registration fee for undergraduate students (including new students) in 2016 to R5 500, and not R7 500”. Current SRC president Mosibudi “Rassie” Rasethaba responded to Prof. de la Rey’s statement today saying that the meeting had taken place. However, he claimed that a conclusion had not been reached because only three SRC members were able to attend the meeting.
A mass meeting against the fee increases is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 21 October and is being organised by a group called Uprising. According to UPrising’s Facebook page, the aim of the group is to host “a peaceful protest to voice the frustrations of students concerning fee increments on all platforms”. UPrising is appealing to all students to stand in unity at the mass meeting tomorrow.
The planned protest at UP follows the nationwide trend of #FeesMustFall, which centres on the dissatisfaction with proposed university fee increments for 2016. This dissatisfaction has resulted in the shutting down of campuses of Wits, Rhodes and UCT.
On the morning of 14 October, a protest at Wits grew when the Empire Road entrance and the Yale Street entrances were blocked by students. Staff and students were not allowed access on or off campus through these entrances and classes were disrupted by students encouraging others to join the protest. The official protest started at noon and gained more momentum with about 2 000 protestors continuing to block entrances to the university and occupying Senate House by means of a sit-it. The university then declared all lectures and academic activities suspended. The protestors’ message was that fee increases proposed by Wits for 2016 were not fair or affordable to a large demographic at the university. The protest spilled over to 15, 16 and 19 and 20 October, intensifying as protestors attacked motorists and stormed Senate Hall. Lectures and academic activity are still currently suspended until next week.
Protests at Rhodes began on 19 October against proposed fee hikes and their Minimum Initial Payments (MIPs). According to Oppidan Press, “Members of the protest blocked off eight entrances into the university with desks and other furniture, construction materials and, in some cases, burning tires. It has been insisted by students throughout the protest that it has been and will remain peaceful.” Academic activities and lectures were suspended following this and remain suspended. Later on Monday, protestors from Rhodes joined up with FET students at Eastcape Midlands College who had been excluded on financial grounds and have been striking for five weeks against NSFAS non-payments. Police arrived on the scene and used three stun grenades to disperse the crowd. Later, police released more stun grenades as well as a water cannon at the protesting crowd, with many news sources reporting that there was no clear provocation from the protesting crowd that demanded the use of the stun grenades or a water cannon. Later on Monday evening it was announced that the university had decided to replace MIPs with a lower registration fee.
At UCT, protests also began on Monday morning with students blocking off entrances to Upper Campus. UCT management was later able to obtain a court interdict preventing protesting students from interfering with the running of the university. Many protestors have dispersed, with only a handful still remaining outside the Bremner Building. Despite the interdict, protesting continued today with nine people being arrested so far. The protestors have barricaded the entrance road to Upper Campus and have also moved to Lower Campus to drum up support.
Yesterday, 30 to 40 students started a sit-in in the Winnie Mandela House at the University of Stellenbosch and prevented staff from leaving. Around noon today, riot police entered the building and removed the students.
Protests also started up at the University of Fort Hare and Cape Penninsula University of Technology today.
According to recent figures published by eNCA, UCT is the most expensive university with registration fees at R24 000. Next is Wits, whose registration fees are set at R9 350. UP’s R7 500 registration fee is ranked the sixth most expensive behind the likes of UCT, Wits, the University of Stellenbosch, North-West University and the University of the Free State.
Yesterday evening, News24 reported that a group of about 30 to 40 students at Stellenbosch University were staging a sit-in in the Winnie Mandela House and preventing staff from leaving. Riot police entered the building around noon today and students were removed. It is currently uncertain what the situation at the university is.
Reports of protests at Cape Penninsula University of Technology and the University of Fort Hare also surfaced around noon today.