It seems students are losing their spirit as police pick off their leaders one by one in a bid to cripple the “free, quality, decolonised education movement”.
This was evident by the low turnout at the #FeesMustFall march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria yesterday. About 2 000 students congregated in dribs and drabs at Church Square in the CBD in the morning to hand over a memorandum at the Union Buildings in the absence of their leaders.
The march was led by Vusi Mahlangu and attended by those studying at universities and state colleges in Pretoria. A few students from medical institution Sefako Makgatho arrived in a bus. Schoolchildren from high schools in Mabopane, Soshanguve, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville left school to join the mass march.
With a heavy police presence escorting the march, the students reached the Union Buildings without incident. They demanded the release of students and their leaders who were in custody.
“We want the release of the students, otherwise they must arrest us all,” Mahlangu said to the throng of students. “We are tired of apartheid racist tactics. The government has a capitalist racist mentality to the students.”
The marchers then turned aggressive when the deputy director-general in the presidency went to receive their memorandum, chanting “who are you?” and requesting to see someone more “credible”.
Some threw stones and objects over the gate at police, who retaliated with stun grenades, dispersing the students. Tshwane metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said the march was illegal.
“When you march, you have to provide the security cluster with the approval letter from the person who will receive the memorandum,” Mahamba said. “They failed to do that.”
In the memorandum were demands for a special levy on companies, increasing their tax level from 28% to 31%, and the reallocation of government budget from less socially necessary functions to education.