Several students have been arrested for public violence at the University of the Free State’s main campus in Bloemfontein. Protesting students earlier attempted to blockade the busy Nelson Mandela drive next to campus.
Free State South African Students Congress (Sasco) convenor, Asive Dlanjwa, says a female student has been admitted to hospital after she was beaten, allegedly by campus security officials.
Students have complained about being unable to register, while others are still awaiting a response from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
Dlanjwa says they will not back down until their demands are met.
“ We have been protesting in response to what the university has been doing to students, not allowing students to register in response to what the government is doing, such that students are not able to register. The money that they have taken away and also students that have been brutalised. As we speak right now, we have a student who is in critical condition fighting for her life at the Tempe hospital. She was brutalised, beaten, and injured by the private security of Francis Petersen. And now there are at least around 30 students that have been arrested today.”
NPA to not prosecute arrested Wits students
Earlier, the National Prosecuting Authority announced that it decided not to prosecute the seven students who were arrested during yesterday’s protest over financial exclusion at Wits University in Braamfontein.
The students made a brief appearance in the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court this morning. They were released on bail yesterday and were expected to be charged with public violence.
Wits University students continue to protest:
In Pretoria, a group of University of Pretoria students marched to the Department of Higher Education headquarters where they handed over a memorandum of demands.
They have given the Minister of Higher Education Dr. Blade Ndzimande time to make sure all first-year students are registered by Monday next week. They are also demanding an immediate end to students’ financial exclusion.
A senior official in the Department of Higher Education Lulama Mbombo received the memorandum.
“So, the Minister, definitely it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to listen to you, even the deputy minister as well. After I gathered this, brothers and sisters, the Minister will be making an announcement. So, I am pleading with you to let me accept the memorandum he has asked me to accept. And I will hand it over to him.”
University of Pretoria students want clarity from government regarding funding challenges students are experiencing:
Additional funding announced
Government has announced additional funding for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to address the funding shortfall for the 2021 academic year.
Higher Education Minister Dr. Blade Nzimande says they have agreed to prioritise funding for all deserving first-year students.
Nzimande dismissed suggestions that the protests have forced the government to release more funds for NSFAS. He said after experiencing a shortfall for the 2021 academic year his department resolved to release more funding to help deserving students.
Nzimande also pleaded for calm at universities to allow the process of placing students and paying their fees to unfold unhindered:
Reasons behind the protests: