Date: Mar 2, 2020

South Africa: Authorities must urgently address concerns of student protestors

In response to the protests at the Tshwane University of Technology, the University of Fort Hare as well as those seen over the last few weeks at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said:

“We are watching with unease the events at universities in Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, and we call on those in authority to listen to the concerns of the students and to find solutions or risk the protests spiralling out of context.

“Some protestors have been involved in the burning of public property and police vans. While holding perpetrators to account, South African Police Service should ensure that those who are protesting peacefully are able to continue to do so, and not use the violent acts of a few as a pretext to restrict or impede the exercise of rights of a majority. The South African authorities must observe international principles on policing protests.”

BACKGROUND

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has seen weeks of running battles between students, campus security and police. The University of Fort Hare, based in the Eastern Cape, has seen protests over the last fortnight. The Tshwane University of Technology’s campus suspended classes today amid fresh protests.

At the heart of the protests at the institutions is a demand by students who have been financially excluded due to historical debt to be allowed to attend classes, and enjoy their right to education which is guaranteed by both South Africa’s Constitution and its international law obligations.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 11 283 6033 (office) or +27 (0)64 890 9224 (mobile); mienke.steytler@amnesty.org.za