Words by Natasha Ndlebe and Thembekile Sibiya
The hashtags changed from #WitsFeesMustFall to #WitsFeesWillFall and after a week of sustained protesting, the Wits university management heard the students cries and fee hikes were halted.
The Wits council announced in a statement today that they had not only agreed to halt the proposed 10.5% fee increase but that students on NFSAS and those who are stretched financially will also get a discount. The vice chancellor Adam Habib also agreed that he will forfeit any performance bonus that is due to him and the money will instead be used to help give deserving students access to the university.
The streets around the Wits campus in Braamfontein were alive with students chanting and protesting, with some vowing to continue with their protest action. Some students took the decision by Habib not to show up on campus today as a sign of disrespect.
“It’s painful knowing that my parents sacrificed a lot for me to come study here and then the chancellor [Habib] disrespects us by not showing up,” said Nokwanda Motsitsi, 20, a second year year BA student.
Another student, Aphelele Mkhize, 20, a second year accounting student said, ‘When we do get these free increments lowered, we are all going to reap what we sowed.” She said that although it was unfair that they would miss so much in terms of academics, there was no way that they could go home and sleep, all students needed to be unified in this fight.
By the end of the day Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande had announced that fees would be capped at 6% when it came to increments for 2016.
Wits University lectures will resume on Monday, October 26.
Photography by Kyle Kheswa