Blankets on the chairs, and more blankets and pillows on the floor. This is Senate House, the space Wits students are using as a study area and main meeting point for #FeesMustFall. It’s where they have been camping since Tuesday night, as they enter day 7 of their protest over fees.
There’s singing of struggle songs and before long, students are back on the streets marching through Braamfontein, and heading to the neighbouring University of Johannesburg. Not even the rain falling as they march can dampen their spirits.
They are led by SRC President Nompendulo Mkhatswa and other SRC members. This is the #NationalShutDown taking place at campuses around the country, as protest against Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s proposed 6% increase for next year.
Khanyo Qolohle (20) says she is hoping that all students will disregard the new increase. Other students, like Lerato Mashishi (18) say they are grateful for the support they have received. “Lecturers have donated more than R50 000. Musicians Simphiwe Dana and AKA have made donations as well. Past students who have graduated are also helping us and we also make contributions among ourselves.”
Andile Dlodlo (21) a BA politics student says there was a sense of solidarity during the night vigil. “It didn’t matter if you were coloured, black or white – everyone who understood how this affects people’s lives just came together.”
The students vowed to continue protesting for the rest of the week.
Pictures by Marcus Malumba, follow him on Instagram