Grahamstown – Police fired stun grenades at a crowd of protesters on Monday afternoon, when students from Rhodes University went to support their peers at the Eastern Cape Midlands College, the university’s independent student news source, Activate, reported.
One person was reportedly injured in the incident.
This prompted a call from Rhodes vice chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela for students to return to the campus where they were “protected under Rhodes University jurisdiction”.
Mabizela also called on police to avoid using force, but the police responded that they had used the “minimum amount of force that could legitimately be used” to diffuse the situation.
Protesting Rhodes students earlier on Monday abandoned talks with Mabizela after no agreement was reached on a decrease in students’ Minimum Initial Payment (MIP) before registration.
University management offered a 20% of full fees MIP, and an extended payment deadline. Students are, however, demanding a 10% MIP and the lowering of fees in general.
The protest was supported by both the Black Students Movement and the Student Representative Council.
As a result, Mabizela announced in a circular that all academic activity would be cancelled for the day and that he – along with other members of top management – would meet students to discuss their concerns.
By late morning the barricades were still up, staff were barred from entering campus and police have asked students to remain on campus. Tyres were reportedly being burnt along Somerset Street.
Mabizela told Activate that he needs the push for change to come from the students themselves, and not from management, in order to preserve good relations with the government.
Mitchell Shaun Parker, News24 Correspondent
— The Herald PE (@HeraldPE) October 19, 2015
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