Protesters were determined to stop all lectures and administrative work before they would agree to meet with university management, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) student Malusi Gqokoma said on Tuesday.
Carrying a large stick in his hand, the Student Representative Council member hit at each plant in the hallways of the administration building, leaving piles of broken leaves behind him.
Elsewhere, upturned potplants littered the hallway,with soil spilling out on to the carpet. Students also emptied out the contents of numerous rubbish bins, leaving the floors strewn with rice, chicken bones and chip packets.
Students continued to protest during the second day of strike action at both the Cape Town and Bellville campuses on Tuesday. The students said they would call off the strike after they had met with university management.
They are demanding that fees are not increased next year, residences must be properly maintained, libraries must stay open until midnight, and more printers and computers should be made available.
The protesters also demanded that students should be guaranteed financial aid.
Protest organisers made their way through buildings on campus on Tuesdaymorning and encouraged students to join in. They forced lecturers out of their classrooms and administration staff out of their offices.
Students gathered in the hallway of the administration building and, with a cry of “push, push, push”, forced their way through a door blocked by security guards. They made their way up several flights of stairs before moving into the fifth floor lobby, which was soon filled with pepper spray.
It was unclear who had emptied the spray into the lobby. Scores of students could be seen coughing and covering their faces with tears streaming from their eyes as their made their way to the student finance office.
Protesters spilt the contents of a coffee cart on to the carpet as they moved down the hallway.
“For your safety go home,” a protester told an administrator in the student finance office.
“I can’t leave. I have commitments,” he responded before locking himself inside.
The university’s chairman of council, Mbulelo Bikwane, later said he did not understand why students felt it was necessary to protest on campus and disrupt classes.
Bikwane addressed hundreds of students at the Cape Town campus on Tuesdayafternoon after receiving a memorandum of demands. He was accompanied by vice-chancellor Vuyisa Mazwi-Tanga. He said he was readily available to students to discuss their concerns.
“I really don’t know where to start. And the reason I don’t know where to start is that I have many questions in my head.
“Why would students strike to see the chairman of the council that every student has the right to see?”
Bikwane added that he would ensure his cellphone number was from now on available to all students so that he could easily be contacted.
He said CPUT students should use discussion and not strikes to resolve disputes.
Bikwane had arranged to meet with members of the SRC late yesterday to address their concerns. He said any issues which could be resolved would be dealt with immediately.
Two different groups, the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (Pasma) and the South African Students Congress (Sasco), protested at the Cape Town campus yesterday. – Cape Times