S African universities to reopen despite protests
SEVERAL South African universities plan to resume classes this week after crippling protests by students demanding free higher education which sparked violent clashes with police, officials said.
The prestigious Wits University in Johannesburg, where lectures have been suspended for three weeks, will start functioning again despite students’ warnings they will block any such attempt.
The university said the goal of securing “free, quality higher education” could be “done at the same time as finishing the academic year”.
Students at Wits threatened they would continue the shut-down until their demand for “free quality decolonised education” was met.
“No student should see a year’s worth of work come to naught, along with the financial sacrifices that they and their families have had to make,” Wits University said.
It added that students would be allowed to protest but only in “specific identified areas”.
Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria announced that classes would resume tomorrow, while the University of Free State in Bloemfontein opened yesterday.
However, the University of Cape Town – where the student movement has been particularly active – said it will remain shuttered. Pretoria University will also stay closed, but staff and students will meet soon to seek an end to the crisis.
The universities have been closed for up three weeks during protests over tuition fees, with violent clashes regularly erupting between students, police and private security guards.