CPUT stu­dents force VC to obey de­mand

‘There’s noth­ing free about higher ed­u­ca­tion,’ he says

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - YAZEED KAMALDIEN

STU­DENTS at the Cape Penin­sula Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy ( CPUT) vic­to­ri­ously pushed the in­sti­tu­tion’s vice-chan­cel­lor to end the sus­pen­sion of two of their protest lead­ers.

This was af­ter CPUT vice-chan­cel­lor Prins Nevhutalu was first forced to re­main in the sports hall in Bel­lville where the meet­ing was held yes­ter­day, be­fore be­ing barred from leav­ing the staff park­ing area.

Nevhutalu was meet­ing # FeesMust­Fall stu­dents to an­swer ques­tions about their var­i­ous de­mands.

“There’s noth­ing free about higher ed­u­ca­tion. Some­body has to pay for it. This de­bate should be whether govern­ment can fund higher ed­u­ca­tion,” Nevhutalu told stu­dents.

Shortly af­ter­wards, when he said he had to leave to go to a meet­ing, CPUT stu­dent protest leader Vuyani Mo­er­ane, who was on stage with Nevhutalu, said: “Vice- chan­cel­lor, you will not leave.” An­other stu­dent added: “He needs to sit in his place.” Man­age­ment stu­dent Sinetemba Madikazi spoke over a mi­cro­phone: “You (Nevhutalu) show us you don’t care. Write a let­ter of res­ig­na­tion and leave forever.”

Nevhutalu talked on the side of the stage to mem­bers of an in­de­pen­dent me­di­a­tion team brought in to fa­cil­i­tate yes­ter­day’s meet­ing. They man­aged to con­vince him to stay.

He told stu­dents: “I take my re­spon­si­bil­ity as vice-chan­cel­lor very se­ri­ously… My role is to en­force rules.”

Stu­dents started de­mand­ing that two protest lead­ers, Vuyani Mo­er­ane and Sapho Mahilili, sus­pended last Novem­ber for al­legedly in­tim­i­dat­ing Prins, be al­lowed to re­turn to the univer­sity.

The meet­ing stalled and shortly af­ter­wards a group of stu­dents from the CPUT campus in Dis­trict Six stormed the sports hall. They an­nounced their ar­rival with protest songs.

Nevhutalu used this as an op­por­tu­nity to exit the meet­ing.

CPUT spokes­woman Lau­ren Kans­ley said he had left for safety con­cerns.

Stu­dents ran out of the sports hall and blocked the exit of the staff park­ing area and Nevhutalu was forced to head into the ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions with stu­dents con­tin­ued in the ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing un­til the me­di­a­tion team and some staff mem­bers re-en­tered the sports hall. They an­nounced the two sus­pended protest lead­ers would be al­lowed back on campus.

Among the stu­dents’ other de­mands was a zero per­cent fee in­crease next year, the scrap­ping of reg­is­tra­tion fees and the can­cel­la­tion of all stu­dent debt for this year.

They also want 10 gigs of free data for all stu­dents, free sanitary pads for fe­male stu­dents, and the re­lease of all exam re­sults, whether or not stu­dents had paid their fees.

Os­car Si­wali, co-or­di­na­tor of the in­de­pen­dent me­di­a­tion team, said they would have more meet­ings with man­age­ment and stu­dents.

Mean­while, Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity said yes­ter­day that it would cre­ate safe spa­ces for con­ver­sa­tions “on the aca­demic suc­cess of specif­i­cally Afrikaans- speak­ing stu­dents from his­tor­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds in a mul­ti­lin­gual higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tion”.

At UCT the Vice Chan­cel­lor Dr Max Price said the ex­ec­u­tive had taken the de­ci­sion to sus­pend classes and to close all UCT cam­puses on Monday.

The Jam­mie Shut­tle ser­vice will not op­er­ate and the li­braries will also be closed.



CPUT stu­dent Siyakholwa Mrawuzeli, left, holds aloft a ban­ner at the Bel­lville campus sports hall yes­ter­day dur­ing a #FeesMust­Fall meet­ing with the univer­sity’s man­age­ment.

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