Strong police presence at North West University amid student protest

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A large contingent of police has been deployed to block all roads leading to the North West University’s Mahikeng campus.

Protesting students have barricaded the entrance to the campus with burning tyres as part of the students’ national action to protest against financial exclusion.

Students wearing regalia of their student movements such as the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command, South African Students Congress (Sasco) and Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) are gathering outside the university’s main entrance.

Police are manning all the roads leading to the university as they remain closed.

Traffic officials are also on site.

Students say they remain resolute on their call for all students to be allowed to register.

Traffic has been re-routed to alternative routes.

Below is an update on protests in North West, Free State and Gauteng:

‘Classes not affected by Wits protest’

Wits University management says the ongoing students’ protests have not affected lectures at the institution.

Most universities and colleges across the country have been protesting since the start of the 2021 academic year against financial exclusion.

Wits University spokesperson Shirona Patel says most of the lectures are taking place online.

“As of yesterday [Monday], we had about 21 000 students logged in on to our online learning system with staff members there were about 22 000 people log in. We know that classes are taking place and that learning is taking place for the majority of students.”

“So the academic programme has not been affected, we’ve got a new learning management system in place. We’ve got laptops which have been couriered to students wherever they are. Students have 30 gigs of data, so the majority of them are [continuing with their] learning and teaching,” says Patel.

The audio file below is the full interview with Wits University spokesperson, Shirona Patel:

Free State protest

Meanwhile, a group of students at Motheo TVET College in Bloemfontein is demonstrating outside the institution’s main campus.

Students are accusing management of backtracking on its promises to assist poor students.

Some students say they did not receive their results from last year while others say they were promised laptops and textbooks which they have not received.

Some of the students are facing evictions from their accommodation because the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) has not provided their funding.

“They promised to give us letters to apply to universities and it doesn’t make sense you can’t apply to the universities with letters. They promised us laptops since 2019, but still today we haven’t received laptops. We are done with our levels, but still we haven’t received our laptops,” adds one student.

Wounded UJ student recovering well

The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) at the University of Johannesburg says the student that sustained a gunshot wound during protests on Monday is recovering well in hospital.

The SRC claims that police were responsible for the shooting, however, the SAPS is adamant that they only used a smoke grenade and water cannons to disperse the protesting students.

The incident took place while students were in Braamfontein demonstrating against the issue of financial exclusion.

UJ student leader Tiego Khoza says, “Well I can confirm that the student is okay. There was a video that was sent where she is saying she is doing well and she is quite okay and far from danger.”

“Now it is quite surprising that last [Monday] night the police are denying that they shot that girl, saying they are not the ones that shot her. But they are the ones who came out with a pump gun and showed it to us. The very same public policing unit.”-Additional reporting by Sashin Naidoo and Thabiso Radebe

GRAPHIC CONTENT: More arrests made in Braamfontein, one student shot