Port Elizabeth – Student protests at NMMU are being driven by external parties, the university’s SRC president said on Monday.
Nicholas Nyathi said he and other members of the DA Students’ Organisation (Daso) had been receiving threats following their attempts to calm protests down over the past few days.
He was addressing about 170 students, parents and lecturers in the auditorium of the Nelson Mandela Bay City Hall.
“I will probably get shot for saying this, but I received an SMS from another student leader, which said ‘Nick, we need to get the taxi associations involved. As president, you need to ensure that the taxi drivers get the tender for shuttles’,” he claimed.
Nyathi asked that he be allowed to address the group while remaining seated as he was dizzy from lack of sleep, due to threats against him and the Student Representative Council.
There had been fallout between the SRC and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s #FeesMustFall movement, which claimed to be an apolitical organisation.
The NMMU #FeesMustFall Movement leaders said the SRC no longer represented their interests.
During a meeting with students on Friday, SRC representatives and Daso members were asked to leave a meeting of #FeesMustFall movement members.
Since then, a petition had apparently been circulating among students calling for the SRC to be disbanded.
The SRC wanted university activities to return to normal as soon as possible. Nyathi said he had it on good authority that there were individuals who were being funded to incite students to protest.
While on 2nd Avenue during clashes with police last week, he said he needed airtime to call the police commissioner.
“I was told, ‘don’t worry about airtime. There are people funding us’,” he claimed.
Nyathi said the SRC had proposed that students march to Florence Matomela House, the current ANC headquaters in Nelson Mandela Bay, but the move had been blocked.
“The leadership wanted to march on the Boardwalk, they wanted to go inside the stores, order food and not pay for it,” he said.
While Nyathi was addressing the group inside the auditorium, students gathered outside and demanded to be let in. The students, many wearing Sasco and EFF-branded clothing, argued with police and security guards that they also had the right to be heard.
The group of around 200 students then waited on Vuyisile Mini Square outside the City Hall for their leaders to address them.
When the meeting inside the auditorium ended, Nyathi and other SRC representatives tried to address the students outside. They refused to listen and sang over him.
The SRC then moved onto the NMMU 2nd Ave, campus where they again addressed students.