Rubber bullets fly as NMMU students protest fee increases


The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) has become the latest tertiary institution to be affected by the ongoing student protests against proposed fee increases for next year.

According to reports, students disrupted the annual Achievers Awards ceremony held in the NMMU Sports Centre last night, where Vice-Chancellor Derrick Swartz was speaking. The event was subsequently cancelled.

In the latest happenings, students have barricaded the entrances to the main North and South Campuses since early this morning, after it was initially announced that fees would increase by nine percent. Numerous social media posts have also reported that police fired rubber bullets at students.

“We were informed verbally about these intentions last night (Tuesday) after a group of students purporting to represent student organisations, including DASO, SASCO, EFFSC indicated that they would be staging protests on campuses in support of various institutional demands and as part of a national drive to ‘shutdown’ universities,” Swartz said in a statement released a short while ago.

“It should be noted that no attempt was made to follow University rules regarding protest action, including guarantees of the safety of others not partaking in protest and university property, and none of the existing channels of negotiation and consultation had been fully utilised or exhausted.

“Under these circumstances, it may not be possible to conduct normal business on our campuses, and I am therefore advising students and staff to exercise due caution in moving between and on campuses where access is permissible. We will seek to meet with student leaders to listen to and deliberate over their grievances once stability is established,” he said.

The protests, which comes after various Vice-Chancellors agreed with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on a blanket six percent increase yesterday afternoon, has brought the number of universities affected to 10 following similar actions at the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University, University of Pretoria, Wits, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Fort Hare, University of the Free State, North West University and TUT.


IMAGE from Taryn Isaacs De Vega on twitter