Members of the Oxford and South Africa-based campaign group Rhodes Must Fall expressed solidarity this week with students protesting in South Africa against tuition fees.
Rhodes Must Fall commented via Facebook on the “magnificence of the students of South Africa,” expressing their sympathy for the cause. In addition, a solidarity meeting was held outside the South African High Commission in London last Friday.
Student protests took place in South Africa over the last two weeks, slowing down university operations. The protests were sparked by a proposed national 10.5 per cent tuition fee rise. The planned increases have since been scrapped after initially being suspended.
Oxford Law graduate Ntokozo Qwabe stated on Facebook on Sunday that “Education is a right. Rights are entitlements. People are right to feel entitled to education. Full stop.
“So YES. We are entitled to free education. And won’t stop claiming it until it is granted. Rights are not for sale. We refuse to be reduced to customers of our rights. The struggle continues this week.”
The protests originated in Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand, and rapidly gained momentum. Protesters claim the higher fees would increase the number of young people unable to access further education, dividing the population based on income and along racial lines. In 2012, 53 per cent of academics in the country were white, despite only 8 per cent of the population being so.
Violence characterised the protests, with many universities shut down including the University of Cape Town and tear gas and stun grenades deployed against demonstrators. As of Wednesday 28th October, lectures were resuming in universities across South Africa.