The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) youth wing, the “student command” (EFFSC), is on a campaign to rope in communities and religious organisations in the ongoing fight for free education in South Africa.
“When students in this country write emails, write letters, or take to the streets giving reasons why we need free education, why free education must be funded by the state, the response is rubber bullets. The response is machine guns and prisons,” EFFSC national spokesperson Mangaliso Sambo told congregants at the prophet Paseka “Mboro” Motsoeneng-led Incredible Happenings Church in Pretoria on Sunday.
“Last week we [were] burying one of our own, Mlungisi Madonsela in Jozini, KwaZulu-Natal. He was killed for fighting for this free education.”
Madonsela, a Durban University of Technology (DUT) student, was shot dead earlier this month in a scuffle between students and campus security guards at the Steve Biko campus in Durban. The EFF has bemoaned Madonsela’s death, saying they feel let down by the justice system.
From the church pulpit on Sunday, the youthful Sambo appealed to communities to stand with students in their quest to get decent accommodation, quality education, and protection.
“On the 5th of March, we will be meeting the mayor of Johannesburg [Herman Mashaba] to cry about accommodation. We have been crying for the past four years before he was even the mayor, saying there is so much property in Johannesburg, yet we are sleeping in libraries and in streets,” said Sambo.
“We will take you, prophet Mboro to places where you will see how your children sleep in the same area they are supposed to be writing their assignments. Students eat in the same area where they are supposed to be using computers for assignments. Day in, day out students are deregistering.”
Mboro prayed for the students, pledging to support them in different ways, particularly through the difficulty university life for many drawn to Johannesburg from far-flung areas.
“Think about making each other. Do not sell your comrades, your fellow fighters, and your colleagues for money. These days, for money, people can do anything. I plead with girls among you – do not be used and taken advantage of by politicians. Do not be used to trap people and create scandals,” said Mboro.
He warned young people to avoid alcohol and drugs. “Alcohol destroyed my father, and it destroyed my eldest brother. I know what it does. Let us find ways of how we get you guys out of this problem. It’s destroying our youth. You see them going out every weekend with their cooler boxes. It’s black men and women destroying themselves, then they blame foreign nationals for taking their jobs,” said Mboro.
“Those foreign nationals who come here are not asking for anybody’s job, but they are creating jobs. We should learn from them because now we not only South Africans, but we are Africans. Many people, myself included, are doing business outside South Africa because sometimes in your own country you don’t get opportunities. It’s the same with the foreign nationals who escaped to South Africa. Now we are also starting to run elsewhere,” he said.