Before the South African Union of student (SAUS) made the call for a nationwide shutdown, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Pietermaritzburg campus had experienced protests from the evening of Thursday, August 11, which continued through into last week. Students are not happy about the proposed 6% increase for university fees in 2017, they are against the new NSFAS application policy and they are aiming at getting free education.
On Sunday night, August 14, students began gathering and started protesting. Students from residences were woken up at 3:00 am with the aim of them joining the protest. Protest action continued on the morning of August 15, where lectures were disrupted.
Students were united; they agreed that no student should go to class and that all students would be part of the protest. All students who went for morning lectures on Monday were sent away. The protest was monitored by SAPS, University Risk Management Services and the Public Order Policing.
As a result, the university management suspended all academic activities on campus on August 15 and 16. On August 15, UKZN vice-chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld released a statement saying that “the University regrets the inconvenience caused and apologizes to all students whose commitments have been interrupted by the unfortunate events.”
All lectures and academic activities were expected to begin on Wednesday, August 17. Van Jaarsveld also explained: “The University Council has not deliberated on issues relating to fee increments as it awaits a directive from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). DHET on the other hand constituted a Multi-Stakeholder Forum to discuss the issue. In a nutshell, no decision on fee increments has been made.