Cape Town – Authorities at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology will be keeping an eye on fees protests on Monday after a message calling for the complete shutdown of its campuses went viral over the weekend.
The message, posted first on a closed Facebook group and then circulated via other social media, comes in response to reports that vice-chancellor Prins Nevhutalu had agreed to a fees increase for 2017.“The VC has just declared a war today by telling that fees will increase and none of our demands will be met,” the post read. “Now gloves are on, we need to take our strike to a higher level, CPUT will be closed for good.
“It’s a total shutdown, no staff must enter nor leave CPUT on Monday coz seemingly this VC does not take us serious or he is testing our capacity and we will show him, today has just minor things. Come this Sunday, CPUT will experience hell first hand.”
CPUT spokeswoman Lauren Kansley denied allegations of a fee hike and said no such information was communicated with anyone.
Responding to the circulated message, she said: “There are always lots of messages like that. I can’t vouch for its legitimacy.”
Cosatu has also stepped into the fray, calling for a return to order at the country’s campuses and a continuation of studies.
“Cosatu has taken note of the developments relating to the demand for free university education,” Andre Kriel, general secretary of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union said.
“We want to be very clear as parents. We call for an immediate return to classes, no later than (Monday). We condemn the destruction of university property and call for the criminals to be arrested and charged. We support the demand for free education, and will take steps to concretise this demand, such as a section 77 notice to Nedlac.”
Tthe chairman of the Bench Marks Foundation, Reverend Jo Seoka, said the pandemonium at campuses around the country could have been avoided if the university councils had been decisive on the minister’s decision to increase fees by up to 8 percent next year.
“It is hard to fathom that a black government can throw a bomb at the universities by expecting them to deal with the vexed issue of fee increments, when it is the ruling party that ascended to power with loud promises of free education.”
Seoka said the violence resulted from “notably badly trained police”.
Seoka called on university vice chancellors and their councils to take decisive action and remove police from campuses.