Students’ union calls for countrywide university shutdown

A group of protesting Wits students try to push through security to get into Solomon Mahlangu Hall, 7 January 2019. They were stopped and pushed back until police arrived to disperse the crowd. Picture: Neil McCartney

A group of protesting Wits students try to push through security to get into Solomon Mahlangu Hall, 7 January 2019. They were stopped and pushed back until police arrived to disperse the crowd. Picture: Neil McCartney

The union wants students’ historic debts cleared, access to better accommodation and the placing of more students at universities, among others.

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has called for a countrywide shutdown at all universities until student demands for financial assistance and accommodation are met by the government.

Last week, some KwaZulu-Natal universities suspended classes following student protests that turned violent. At the Durban University of Technology, a 20-year-old student was shot dead, and at Wits university, some students embarked on a hunger strike.

SAUS kicked off the week by saying it would continue its national shutdown campaign until all demands were met.

It also held a six-hour meeting with the minister of higher education and training, Naledi Pandor, on Saturday, with no fruitful outcome.

“We will stop the shutdown when we know that no one has been financially excluded from higher institutions of learning,” SAUS secretary-general Lwandile Mstolo said.

The union wants students’ historic debts to be cleared, access to better accommodation and the facilitation of more students at universities, among several other demands.

“The minister had heard the students’ demands and advised them that some of it including the registration of students with historic debt could be resolved instantly,” Pandor’s spokesperson, Lunga Ngqengelele, said.

SAUS president Misheck Mugabe added that they would take Pandor’s decisions to SRC leaders and discuss a way forward.

The National Youth Development Agency said it noted the total shutdown call and encouraged stakeholders to place the lack of housing and state of student accommodation at the top of their agendas to find a speedy resolution.

African News Agency (ANA)

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