Student protests – March 2021
No reason to celebrate Human Rights Day
As reported by Eyewitness News, Wits SRC president, Mpendulo Mfeka, said South Africans still did not have access to higher education, let alone affordable education.
“We cannot proceed as though things are normal at the university, so to us, this is a sarcastic day and we will not be celebrating it.”
This despite 27 years of democracy. For this reason, the students say they did not celebrate Human Rights Day “as there was nothing to celebrate”.
Education excludes the poor
In addition, the University of Johannesburg’s SRC president, Simphiwe Methula, pointed out the country’s education system still excludes the poor. Methula said “students are left behind” because they can’t afford to register.
“We tried fighting for them but the university itself privatised those who had money to register.”
The students said that 27 years after democracy, the fight for free decolonised education continued and innocent people were being killed during peaceful protests.
As the country continues to mark Human Rights Day, students said that the right to education and to protest was yet to be realised for many black people in South Africa.
Why student protest turn violent
Jane Duncan, Professor in the Department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg explain why some students use disruptive tactics to shut campuses down until their demands are met.
Duncan explains that “state repression creates solidarity among movement participants” as well, who then justifies the need for violence as a form of self-defence. In short, “violence emerges from violence.”
“The sad reality is that the authorities often ignore peaceful, non-disruptive protests. Outside the university context, civic organisations like Abahlali base Mjondolo have engaged in road blockades because their more conventional protests were ignored”.
Jane Duncan for The Conversation
Now read: ‘I’m missing out’ – pupil’s desperate fight for his right to education