A library on University of Cape Town’s upper campus was shut down and several lectures disrupted on Monday morning.
The disruptions were carried out by a group of students who informed other students of a mass meeting on Tuesday at 1pm at Jameson Hall.
Tomorrow let’s meet pic.twitter.com/OYMoURTtlo
— Raf Neck(@Kaffir1) (@raf_neck) October 23, 2017
A student asked not to be named said his 10am lecture came to an abrupt end when protesting students took to the podium to invite them to the meeting taking place on Tuesday. “They were carrying Red Bull cans so I thought they were promoters, but then one of the leaders went to the podium and mentioned something about Fees Must Fall starting again,” he said.
He said students were then asked to evacuate.
Current and incoming Student Representative Council (SRC) member Sihle Lonzi from the EFF Student Command said the disruptions were planned by students and not SRC.
He said the SRC had a meeting with management last Friday and asked the university to take a position on Fees Must Fall and ask for the immediate release of the Fees Commission report. “They promised to send an email out by Saturday which never happened so students are generally frustrated,” he said.
[UPDATE]: Vice-Chancellor, Max Price, also “expressed grave concern” that the Fees Commission was not released yet. He said UCT is delaying decisions on fee increments for 2018 “pending the release of the report”. “We will not be able to delay decisions on fees for much longer. We therefore appeal to the President to release the report for public scrutiny and debate,” Price said in a statement on Monday.
Lonzi said the mass meeting is being hosted by the current SRC who will address issues facing students and they would determine the way forward for the rest of the week and the year.
He could not confirm if UCT would shut down but said it would be determined by students. “I can tell you students are agitated and frustrated, especially the black students,” he said.
A university spokesperson confirmed that the disruptions had happened, and said Campus Protection Services was addressing the situation.
Neo Mkwane, incoming SRC member for the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) said DASO believed in the “legitimate struggle that students face” but did not “believe in a shutdown”. He said they want to address student issues by discussing them with management on a policy level.
Other universities in the country have had fresh waves of student protests. Thirty-eight students from the University of Free State were arrested on Friday and students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology have been clashing with private security.
Editors’ note: This story has been updated with comment by Max Price