30 September 2016
Yesterday, 29 September 2016 the President of the Republic of South Africa met with Ministers from the Justice, Crime Prevention & Security Cluster (JCPS) to reflect on the issue of the student’s protest for free higher education for all.
The President expressed serious concern at the escalation of violence, destruction of property and a general state of lawlessness and public disorder that has characterised the “Fees Must Fall” protests in a number of institutions of higher learning in the country.
As part of responding to the concerns of the President and that of the general public, the Cluster in support of Minister of Higher Education has held an engagement with the student leadership of various institutions of higher learning. This is an ongoing process of engagements with key stakeholders in the education sector and other relevant role players in an attempt to find a solution to this challenge.
Government recognises the legitimacy of the issues raised by students with regards to access and provision of free quality education. However, in pursuit of this noble undertaking, the JCPS Cluster wishes to emphasise that acts of violence, intimidation and destruction of property will not be tolerated.
It is important to note that Government has made great strides towards the realisation of this noble ideal of expanding access to higher education for students from poor and the working class backgrounds.
To this end, for the 2017 academic year, Government has ensured that poor students who receive assistance from NSFAS, middle class and the “missing middle” don’t pay any fee increase. Students from families with family annual income of up to R600 000 will not pay any fee increase. Government has further recommended to universities that the fee increases should not exceed 8%. The subsidy will benefit almost 70% of all undergraduate students in universities and colleges.
South Africa is a constitutional democracy with a comprehensive legislative framework that provides, amongst other things, for gathering and protesting in a peaceful and lawful manner.
Government recognises and respects the right to freedom of expression, we would however, like to warn all protesters that section 16(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa does not extend this right to incitement of imminent violence.
We appeal to the leadership of students, parents and all stakeholders to work together with government to dissuade students from committing acts of criminality that may result in criminal records which may jeopardise their future prospects.
Fellow South Africans, the JCPS genuinely believes that the challenges that confront our society in the wake of the “Fees Must Fall” protests, do not in any way diminish our collective responsibility towards the safety and security of one another.
We urge members of the Police to always act with maximum restraint and ensure that their conduct is always beyond reproach. We equally appeal to the students to work with our law enforcement in ensuring that these protests are peaceful.
National SAPS leadership is today engaging provincial commissioners to firm up plans to secure the protests, public and private property, students and members of the public.
We will continue to update the nation on work that Government is doing to normalise the situation at institutions of higher learning thereby allowing for the academic programme to continue.
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Issued by Government Communication and Information