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‘People trapped at bottom of society because of persisting disparities will remain trapped’

Thuli Madonsela says the fees protests highlight the persistence of systemic inequalities based on race.

Former Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Annual Lecture on 15 October 2016. Picture: Louise McAuliffe/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Advocate Thuli Madonsela says everyone should try play their part and contribute whatever they can to assist students battling to get through university

Madonsela delivered the key note address at the annual Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Lecture in Newtown this afternoon under the topic what must rise

The former public protector delivered her first speech as an ordinary citizen; she began by relating a story of a struggling university student.

She says the cry for financial assistance is necessary.

"In fact it's been said in the struggle now, for Fees Must Fall, some of the students are not registered. Is it not possible that some of the ones that are not registered are those who suffered academic exclusions, which were instigated by financial exclusion?"

Advocate Madonsela says the protests highlight the persistence of systemic inequalities based on race.

She says the Fees Must Fall protesters have highlighted this through their demonstrations.

"People who are trapped at the bottom of society because of persisting racial disparities compounded by gender discrimination and class inequality will [remain] trapped at the bottom of society."

Madonsela says everyone including lay citizens could contribute the little they can afford to give to students.

She says her office initially pledged R20,000 and it has now raised over R700,000.