By William Barron
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 1 of VARSITY News.
CPUT campuses have been shut down since the 6th of March following two weeks of on-campus protests. The shutdown is set to continue until the end of the term. The executive proposes the shutdown as a security measure, citing concerns over violence. Students have claimed that their grievances over the payment of NSFAS allowances; quality and affordability of cafeteria food; practices of corruption within the institution; academic exclusion; and the detention of #FeesMustFall activists as motivating their action.
CPUT students marched on Thursday to deliver a memorandum of their grievances at Parliament. The chief concern is over the payment of NSFAS allowances to CPUT students. Deputy minister for Education Buti Manamela met with NSFAS administrators in Cape Town on Thursday to investigate delays in the payment of student allowances. The NSFAS claims over R100 million has been handed over to CPUT for the payment of the allowances, which have not yet reached students.
Protests at CPUT’s Bellville campus have been particularly destructive. The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) has claimed that on the Bellville campus private security forces were excessively forceful. Protesting students disrupted classes and destroyed vehicles, torching food trucks and stoning cars. A statement posted by the Feesmustfall_cput Facebook page put forward a list of demands to come out of the protests. These centre on concerns over academic exclusion, student housing, and the affordability and quality of cafeteria food.
CPUT joins the University of Fort Hare in shutting down its campuses as universities across South Africa witness continued protests. The start of UWC’s academic year was held back by a week due to protests. Forth Hare and UWC students were protesting over similar grievances, including the exclusion of students due to historical debt and shortages of student accommodation.
CPUT first year, Dawud Ally, claims that students were warned against going to campus and that they would be forcefully removed by protesters “as if we were a lightbulb in the ceiling.” He said that executive management had no choice but to cancel classes as shuttles had been disrupted and many students would be unable to attend lectures as the term’s first test period approached.