Ricochet News

VIDEO: 'Trollip doesn’t care about the struggles of black students': NMU students

By Afikile Lugunya - May 4, 2018
VIDEO: 'Trollip doesn’t care about the struggles of black students': NMU students

Protesting students at the Nelson Mandela University on Friday gathered in front of the Port Elizabeth City Hall where they hoped to hand over a memorandum of demands to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip.

The students led by the South African Students Congress (SASCO) embarked on a mass protest on Wednesday, which saw them blocking off enterances to the university.

On Thursday, they met with university representatives and gave the university 48 hours to respond to oustanding issues

Still, the NMU said that it had brought into force an October 2017 court interdict against the students.

Unfortunately, the Mayor could not meet with the students on Friday, who eventually left having given him a 48-hour ultimatum to respond to their demands.

Among their demands, the students want the Mayor to have the dilapidated buildings in the City refurbished and turned to residences to ease the demand for student accommodation. They are also demanding improved security, especially for students, following several cases that have seen students being hijacked, raped, robbed and even murdered in the City.

Speaking on behalf of SASCO, Athenkosi Daniso, said: “Poor black students, who are coming from the rural areas are not thought about; they are expected to perform like students, who come from model C schools like Grey High School."

He added that SASCO had decided to not just focus at the institutional challenges that students were facing at the NMU, but to also involve the Mayor and the City fathers in adddressing the plight of students.

Daniso described how it was ironic that when the students decided to march to the City Hall, they were suddenly surrounded by SAPS and Metro police officers, but when they are targeted by criminals, law enforcement is never there.

“To him [Trollip], if the problems are not affecting white students it’s fine. The municipality that is led by the Democratic Alliance (DA) doesn’t care about the struggles of black students," he added.

“Shamba is one of us, in fact - he must multiply. There are no amounts of bullets that can make us stop what we are doing."

The President of the Nelson Mandela University Student Representative Council (SRC), Bamanye Matiwane, read the memorandum of demands before handing it to a municipal representive.

Explaining why the students had resorted to protesting, he said; "When you don’t have something and there are no promises of getting it, you are forced to take it by force."

Among the demands mentioned included: a reduction of municipal rates, increasing police visibility at the university, more police visibility at the Missionvalle campus, engagement with the department of human settlement to refurbish old buildings, allowing students to use IPTS buses for free and free driver’s licenses for all students.

Former Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Deputy Executive Mayor, who is the United Democratic Movement's (UDM) Regional Chairperson, Mongameli Bobani, accepted the memorandum of demands from the students and promised to hand it over to the Mayor.

Addressing the students, African National Congress (ANC) Youth League Regional Secretary, Luyolo Nqakula, emphasised that the march was just a beginning and more trouble was coming Trollip’s way if he continued to ignore student’s needs.

“He doesn’t want to come to see us because he is undermining us. This is our City Hall; if we can’t enter our City Hall then, who does it belong to? Who does it serve?" Nqakula asked.

The students also took time to remember Shamba the lion, who was shot dead after attacking Michael Hodge, 72, the owner of Marakele Predator Centre, where he was raised since birth over the weekend.

Hodge broke his jaw and sustained injuries to his neck during the attack, which saw him airlifted to hospital.

However, the students agreed with those online asking why the lion was shot when it was Hodge, who entered its enclosure.