CPUT students force VC to obey demand
‘There’s nothing free about higher education,’ he says
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.