University protests are on a high in South Africa. Every year we seem to have the same issues when it comes to universities. There is always a problem whether it has to do with student fees, student accommodation or any other student inquiries. This year the University of KwaZulu-Natal was in the firing line with students protesting against the school’s lack of seriousness when it comes to dealing with their student’s issues. Of course, we can’t forget about the University of Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg with their fair share of student demonstrations. Amongst all this chaos, many students were injured.
All UKZN campuses have undergone a shutdown before their academic year even started. There has even been vandalism of property in the past few days involving two vehicles – one which belonged to Westville campus’ Risk Management Services and the other was a privately owned vehicle at the Howard College campus. Both being overturned and burned by students involved in the protests. In the midst of all the chaos, which started on the 5th of February, were police officers firing rubber bullets and tear gas at all the students but the violence just continued with stones being thrown at cars and with tires, even furniture and grass, being burned. University protests are on a high in most of these institutions, lectures were also suspended by UKZN as these violent protests continued.
Even lecturers from the Durban University of Technology were suspended due to the disruptions at and around the campus. Two students at the Steve Biko campus were shot by campus police and unfortunately one of the students lost their life after being rushed to hospital. It doesn’t even make sense as to why live ammunition was being fired at students.
The running theme for these protests is that the university requires students to pay at least half of the money they owe in order for them to register. Some international students even had to pay their registration fees in full upfront. Students want free education, sufficient accommodation for everyone and their other enquiries to be listened to. The memorandum drawn up by the SRC includes; UKZN finds another building to provide accommodation for students without a place to stay, transport issues, funding frustrations, a decrease in high cafeteria prices and in printing costs, etc. Luckily it seems as though the university has finally decided to listen to the students and talk to SRC and try to sort everything out. The protests have started to die down so things are looking better.
University Protests are on a High
So many university students lose their lives in these protests. It happens every year, if they don’t lose their lives they get severely injured. Last year in August, a student from the Tshwane University of Technology was shot and killed by two police officers. Why are students being killed for wanting proper education?
As if that wasn’t enough, the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) is also dealing with its share of student protests. Students are protesting for a number of reasons, mainly for accommodation as well as registration fees. A week prior to these demonstrations, a bunch of students went on a hunger strike for the resolution of accommodation and registration issues. More students then started disrupting classes and blocking roads that lead into the university. The university stated that it can’t help every student due to limited funds but they are trying to do something about accommodation. It seems as though they have the situation contained with police and additional security in the area.
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) seems to be protesting for the same reasons. While students were trying to enter the campus with force during one of these demonstrations, a student was involved in an altercation with private security guards at the Auckland Park campus. He was hit on the head with rocks while there was teargas and rubber bullets flying around in the air.
The government also need to intervene on this issue. For a couple of years now we have lost young lives and caused everyone to have physical and psychological scars. Every year it is the same thing. We need universities to start listening to its students and meeting them halfway. Violence should never be the answer.