Wits student protesters to target private sector

Wits student leaders say they are not satisfied with the decision to hike tuition fees for 2017.

A students holds up a poster at Wits University after the announcement of an 8% increase by Min of Higher Education Nzimande. Picture: Nina Leslie/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Protesting Wits students calling for free education say they will also target the private sector to contribute more to higher education and they will plan a march possibly to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Some students at Wits University yesterday barricaded entrances and stopped people from entering and leaving the campus following the announcement by Higher Education and Training minister Blade Nzimande to increase fees next year with a cap of eight percent.

Ndzimande says there will be no fee increment for the so-called "missing middle" and poor students but some students are demanding free education.

Today protests are set to continue on campus as students plan a campus shut down.

Wits SRC Secretary General Fasiha Hassan says students aren't satisfied with yesterday's announcement and there are growing calls to also hold the private sector to account.

"The private sector has not played a big enough role, it has not contributed or developed higher education enough, which is something we're all in agreement with. So we're looking at JSE and Chamber of Mines, something like that, in terms of possible march in upcoming weeks."

Hassan says while there may seem to be divisions among students regarding the #FeesMustFall movement they are in agreement about free education.

Hassan says they have also agreed to try and bridge the gap between historically black and historically white universities.


NGO, Universities South Africa, has urged student leaders to keep the academic interests of the majority of students in mind as they consider their response to the move to hike tuition fees.

Nzimande also committed government to settling the difference to ensure poor and working class students continue paying 2015 rates.

Universities South Africa's Ahmed Bawa says this initiative is an interim solution pending the outcome of the Fees Commission of Inquiry.

"We hope that the student leaders will understand the responsibility that they bear as well to ensure that they speak for the majority of the students, that they try to ensure that students do have a chance to complete the academic year."

Nzimande says while students have the right to protest he urged them to consider the economic constraints this decision was made under.

"They have a duty to understand that we're a highly unequal country, we think this coverage is actually covering a larger number of parents."

Treasury will have to find an estimated R2.6-billion to fund this intervention.


The University of Cape Town says lectures will resume today. Academic activity had been suspended yesterday as a precautionary measure ahead of Nzimande's 2017 tertiary fees announcement.

UCT spokesperson, Elijah Moholola, says tests and lectures will proceed as scheduled today.

"While the university will continue monitoring the situation, classes are expected to resume this morning."

But #FeesMustFall activist Masixole Mlandu says they plan to intensify protests.

"This time around we want to say that we're not going to back down from protesting up until free education and the end of outsourcing ends."

Mlandu says protesting UCT students intend joining their Stellenbosch University counterparts when they meet Maties rector Wim de Villiers on Friday.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Stellenbosch say their campuses were peaceful this week.