Student protest demands transport and meal allowance

VANDERBIJLPARK.- Students are one powerful ingredient of any kind of protest.

This was as evident in the 1976 Soweto Uprising, as in the 2016 #Fees Must fall demonstrations. Déjà vu: Thursday morning saw students of the Sedibeng College Vanderbijlpark protesting against misuse of funds by college management. The protest by angry students was imminent for a long time. Their anger boiled over and erupted in a peaceful march. They claimed that NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) fund had allocated bursaries to the wrong people.

They barricaded the institution premises with burning tyres, chanting struggle songs. Police were deployed to the protest and rubber bullets were fired at the students, scattering the protest action and bringing it to a stop. One student was arrested in the process.

“All we want is transparency by the institution management. We are students, but also parents. Management should not treat us like children here. We are not playing hide and seek,” said one protestor.

Sedibeng Ster spoke to the president of the Vanderbijlpark SRC Stephen Mashiane, who told Ster that this was a peaceful march, In spite of their anger they going to control their enmity and address management through pen and paper.

“We are civil members of society as students and we endeavor to be educated. We demand to be treated like professionals, not like money-making objects,” he said during the protest.

His position was supported by SASCO Vereeniging branch secretary Teboho Mokoena, who set out the students’ letter of grievances (memorandum):

  • We demand NSFAS transportation money
  • We demand NSFAS accommodation money
  • We demand NSFAS meal allowance

These were key demands. In the twinkling of an eye Police crowded into the place and fired teargas at the students, scattering them. Mokoena was arrested as the only person who did not run from the police.

“I’m not scared of prison. ‘Amandla’,” shouted the handcuffed Mokoena as Police dragged him by the trousers and threw him into the back of a police vehicle.

SASCO Provincial Convenor Jabu Maitse confirmed that Mokoena was released after spending a night in the police cells.

He was charged with malicious damage to property, which is also classed as public violence, said Maitse. At the time of going to print, collective management was still in negotiations with the collective SRC of Sedibeng Colleges.

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