The University of Johannesburg has faced severe class disruptions continuously for days, as political leaders and activists decided to join the national war of FeesMustFall. However, this led to injuries to a number of students, and others who were not striking were pepper sprayed. This has left students’ lives at risk as sometimes the protestors would throw fire extinguishers to disturb the classes. Some other students who were unwilling to join the protests were called sell-outs.
The University’s Management has been quiet, ignoring this matter and sending emails and SMSs to students to attend classes, saying academics will be normal as planned. But the reality, what was happening on the ground contradicted the emails and SMSs that were sent continuously to students by the University.
The Open Journal talks to a few students about the matter at hand, finding out how they feel about the silence of UJ management regarding this matter.
Lerato Tshabalala (20) 1st year Social Worker student.
“They are putting our lives at risk”
“The management for not directly responding to the situation is making us nervous because it gives us an impression that they are not taking the protest seriously. In the meantime, people are getting hurt, and just yesterday students were being pepper sprayed. They keep telling us about the court order, these documents don’t protect us from violent bouncers and police officers. It is upsetting.”
Philisiwe Ncapai (23) 3rd-year journalism student.
“I just want justice for future generations”
Ncapai said, “these protests are extremely relevant because if we don’t deal with such issues now it will be a problem for coming students. The fees problem is obviously not going to be solved overnight, however, we need to start the process now. If UJ management does not want to communicate then so be it, we will continue joining our colleagues from other universities in fighting this battle. This is bigger than us and if we do not partake in it, who will.”
Leocardia Vuma (23) 3rd economics student.
“Students and management should meet each other half way”
“I feel that students are “over striking”. I say no to fee increment. However, I disagree with those [who are] demanding free education. I am an Economist student and I can tell you there is no such thing as a free lunch. Many have studied and graduated with the same system, what makes us any different? With regard to the management, I feel that bringing on bouncers has done more harm than good onto our campuses, that extra money could’ve been used to fund those who are in financial need. Who are they protecting us from, ourselves? Management and students need to meet each other halfway and find the solution to these problems.”
Carmen Naidoo (20) 2nd year Bcom Accounting student.
“We are not safe”
“For me, it is a matter of safety, as much management say we must attend classes, they have not put up the necessary security measure to protect us. The fidelity security people are also now caught up in the protests so we cannot trust them either. It is frustrating and we definitely need clarity.”
Laurianne Lingbondo (20) 1st-year journalism
“We no longer trust bouncers”
“As an international student, the silence of the University of Johannesburg on the protests is actually really frightening because it’s showing to me that they don’t really care about our wellbeing. Their silence shows that they are ignoring the protests while we are the ones whose lives are in danger when walking around campus. Management needs to engage with us as to how they plan to engage with us on how they plan to subdue protests because we equally don’t trust the bouncers.”
Emma Leigh (23) 3rd year accounting
“Management is nervous”
Leigh said, “I feel like the management is nervous about the whole situation hence they decide to pull back. All of this is generally overwhelming, how much more is it for the management. Students should try and be lenient and peaceful with the protest. We still have to study when it is all said and done.”