In solidarity with students across the country, we, the undersigned, condemn the brutal murder of a 36-year old bystander who was shot and killed by police during a student protest against financial exclusion at Wits University. Our society is characterised by bullets suppressing ideas, young voices consistently silenced by police and private security. This securitized approach from institutions including but not limited to Durban University of Technology, Tshwane University of Technology, and the University of Johannesburg to ‘’manage’’ students has devastating consequences, bringing back harrowing memories of comrades from institutions around the country who lost their lives and livelihoods in the fight for a freer and fairer society. History is repeating itself! This is not a new fight, students have continued to struggle against financial exclusion towards the demand for free education – which eventually culminated in the #FeesMustFall movement of 2015. Every year since then, students have been forced to protest – this year in a global pandemic – to register in spite of fee blocks, mental health challenges, financial exclusion, pandemic related unemployment, and historical debt.
The levels of indebtedness we see today have a deep history linked to economic exclusion stemming from apartheid which has only been worsened by the COVID-19 Pandemic and the unconstitutional 2021 austerity budget by the state. We can no longer tolerate this unjust status quo that being intelligent is not good enough if you are poor.
We hereby demand:
– The end to violent police brutality and repressive suppression of protest, in particular against black bodies and the use of dangerous weapons such as tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition;
– The registration of all qualifying students regardless of historical debt and/or outstanding fees;
– That universities stand with students against the Austerity Budget which has slashed funding to higher education;
– Respect for the constitutional right to protest;
– The arrest and prosecution of police officers responsible for the brutality against students and the general public;
– The immediate resignation of Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande
-The President to immediately put Action plan to address Access to Free Quality Higher Education
We call on all people who are angered by injustice, by police brutality and anti poor and anti black institutions to support the continued struggle for free, decolonised and quality education and an end to police brutality.
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