#FeesMustFall march fizzles in Pretoria

2016-10-20 17:49

Today’s Fees Must Fall march to the Union Buildings ended with no conclusion.

Students from various institutions came together at Church Square in Pretoria with the plan to march to The Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum of demands to a government official.

The students, who had school children among them, marched peacefully through the Pretoria CBD while accompanied by police.

The large group made their way on to the south lawns of the buildings where they were met with heavy police presence.

In front of the fence separating the students and the police one of the leaders of the protest, Vusi Mahlangu, addressed protesters. He said the message they were delivering was that arrested students must be released.

“If they do not release those 500 students, they must arrest us all,” Mahlangu shouted.

Mahlangu, who wore a green blanket, was arrested by the Hawks in the Eastern Cape earlier this year for perjury after he allegedly lied about being kidnapped.

Mahlangu could not be heard and this resulted in several breakaway groups singing on the sidelines of the main group. When police tried to assist by giving Mahlangu their loudspeaker, protesters called for him to return to their side of the fence.

The memorandum called on government to implement free, decolonised, decommodified education now, for outsourcing to end and for the demilitarisation of campuses.

A scuffle ensued when students tried to hand over the memorandum. The protesters were demanding that the document should be received by a senior official but they did not recognise those sent to receive it.

Students started chanting “who are you? Who are you?” as they pressed against the fence.

The officials did not identify themselves and some protesters threw items over the fence.

Police fired stun grenades, which caused the group to disperse. Many students left but a crowd of about 100 remained and refused to leave. The protesters asked police not to shoot them but when a few of them threw rocks, police used water cannons to disperse them.

The small group that remained argued that the area was public property and refused to leave.

Students were divided on the way forward. Some left and went back to Church Square while others stayed at the Union Buildings.

March 17 2019