Opposing groups protest at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

#OpenNMMU versus #FeesMustFall

Photo of students and parents

Parents and students demonstrated today outside Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University demanding it be re-opened. Photo: Joseph Chirume

By GroundUp Staff

5 October 2016

Two groups of protesters faced off today at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University over whether or not the university should re-open.

About 30 students from the #FeesMustFall movement were singing and dancing at the main entrance to the university while a few metres away was a group of about 80 people from #OpenNMMU, including students and parents of students.

The students from FeesMustFall refused to talk to the media.

Addressing the gathering, the leader of #OpenNMMU, student Matthew Mackay said “We are concerned about finishing our qualifications. Our rights to education have been infringed upon and we want the university opened.”

“Everybody who is here supports the idea of not increasing fees. Everybody here wants fees to be cheap and affordable but not to close universities. Nobody will graduate this year. Everybody will have to go back to the same classes next year, and with matric pupils entering tertiary education, classes will be full and this will have a detrimental effect on the quality of education and society as a whole,” said Mackay.

Another protester, Ishaan Jassat, said it would be very difficult to repay the loans students had borrowed if they were made to repeat next year.

“I am in my third year this year. If I repeat it, I will not be able to repay my loan.Yes, we want fees to fall. At the same time we also want the university to open.”

The parent of a science student, Andrew Jonas, said he was frustrated that his son was at home doing nothing when his fees had been paid for the whole year.

“I came here not to fight NMMU. The government should shoulder the blame of all this.They should open the university and let our children get their education. They promised free education, so provide it.”

Nathi Dwayi of #FeesMustFall referred GroundUp to another student, Thando Nkala, who said he did not want to talk to the media.

The university said yesterday that “engagements” with students were continuing and the university was committed to completing the academic progamme for 2016.

All campuses of Walter Sisulu University were open as usual, while at the University of Fort Hare, where students have been boycotting classes for weeks, students said they would challenge a court ruling ordering them to quit their residences in Alice.

The Bhisho High Court ruled this week that the students should leave the residences immediately and that the university should provide alternative accomodation for those who needed it.

SRC leader Thandikhaya Mthokazi said the students had been told to move to East London and to pay an indemnity fee, which they refused to do.