The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in the Free State has threatened to shut down all University of the Free State campuses if the institution intimidates and suspends students who were in the forefront of the fees protest.
The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command has confirmed that some of its members are still serving suspensions following their involvement in the protest.
24 students, who were arrested on Thursday for contravention of the Gathering Act, have been released on warning and free bail in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.
Student formations at the University of the Free State including Sasco and EFF Student Command say the arrest of 24 students will not discourage them from ensuring that students are not excluded from registering. The students were arrested after they blockaded Nelson Mandela Drive near campus.
” We do note tactics by the University of the Free State to try and neutralise the student activism on campus. But we also want to let them know that nothing is going to deter us, we are not threatened at all in fact. We are more than motivated than before to further the interests of the students because all that we want is for students to be registered,” says Teboho Legodi.
Fees Must Fall leader at the university Asive Dlanjwa says they demand students be allowed to register at the institution.
“The biggest thing that we demand is physical registration. We want students to be able to access campus, to be able to register because they don’t have data, they don’t have devices. They don’t have the network across South Africa to be able to register online. We, therefore, say Francis Peters must stop his thuggish ways, open the university like all other 25 institutions of higher learning and allow students to physically register on campus.”
The University of Free State students join other students across South Africa protesting against exclusion:
Responding to the allegation of the suspension of students who are leading the fees protest, ANC Youth League Chairperson in the Free State Makalo Mohale says no student should be intimidated for being part of the registration protest.
“If that is the case that will be quite unfortunate, if indeed the university intends or suspends students for fighting for their rights, they will now be inviting full force from the ANC Youth League and all its alliance partners. The Youth League condemns that, it will never allow the situation where the university misuses its power when they have to respond positively to a basic right of education. If that indeed is going to happen the Youth League will mobilise the society to go and bring the university to a standstill. ”
The University of the Free State Vice Chancellor Francis Petersen says the institution’s management will probe allegations that students were manhandled by security guards during their protest. Petersen says the university has extended the registration period.
“With respect to the extension of the registration dates for senior students, you all recall that the registration date for first-year students has been extended until 19 March, closing date for senior students in terms of registration is, in fact, this Friday. ”
The case of 24 students has been postponed to 23 April for further investigation.