A faction of the #FeesMustFall movement, embarked on a protest at the Wits University, calling on non-exclusion of students based on their finance status, as 140 students were denied funding by FundSA Lushaka Funding, from the Department of Higher Education. Picture: MOELETSI MABE/THE TIMES
A faction of the #FeesMustFall movemenT embarked on a protest at the Wits University in April. Picture: MOELETSI MABE/THE TIMES

DIVISIONS continue to plague the #FeesMustFall protests that University of the Witwatersrand students have embarked on, with some questioning the motives of the university’s leadership.

On Monday Wits students demanding free education blockaded the entrances to the university, refusing to let members of staff and students leave campus. This followed Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement that he was recommending a fee increase capped at 8% for higher learning institutions in 2017.

He said higher learning institutions had the autonomy to set their own increases but the National Student Financial Aid Scheme beneficiaries and "missing middle" students would have their increases funded by the government.

The students met on Monday evening to discuss a way forward, saying the they would continue to protest for the rest of the week. However, divisions appeared as students argued over who should lead their cause and the role party T-shirts were playing in politicising their protests.

Incoming Wits student representative council (SRC) president Kefentse Mkhari and outgoing president Nompendulo Mkhatshwa were booed as they attempted address the students.

"He must go speak in the toilet. Celebrate yourself outside," shouted one of the students as Mkhari tried to speak about his role in the protest as incoming president. Some accused the SRC leadership of being "careerists", saying that they would not answer to them.

However, Wits SRC secretary-general and deputy secretary of the South African Union of Students Fasiha Hassan urged the students to remain united, saying it was the only thing that would get them free education. "When we are divided it is a [chance] for the state to come and divide us," she said. She urged the students to come up with short- and long-term strategies for their protest.

The group also decided that from Tuesday students would not be allowed to wear party T-shirts, because it led to fights among them.