31/10/2017 16:56 SAST | Updated 31/10/2017 16:56 SAST

How Important Is Wits To The #FeesMustFall Movement?

Student leaders have different views about this.


While students at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) are still on the fence about whether they will be part of this year's #FeesMustFall protests, many believe their involvement would be crucial for the protest to have true significance.

Some students have aired their frustrations about the lack of media coverage and attention given to protesting students at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the University of the Free State (UFS), despite students being injured during clashes with police.

Police are even investigating reports about the use of live ammunition at UFS's QwaQwa campus last week.

Two students were allegedly shot by private security guards during protests.

CPUT SRC deputy president Athi Ndita believes Wits is at the centre of the movement.

"To an extent, Wits symbolises the birth of #FeesMustFall. I think that with the media in South Africa, when something happens at Wits or UCT [University of Cape Town], they tend to speed up," he said.

"If something happens at CPUT, no one will cover that, but if a classroom is burnt at Wits it will be all over the news," he said.

But UFS student leader Asive Dlangwa believes that all universities should be part of the movement to build a louder resonance.

"We are all custodians of the struggle for free education," he said.

UCT's Seipati Tshabalala said Wits students should not be put under pressure to join the movement.

"I believe it is unfair for people to be calling for other institutions to just shut down. There are a lot of conditions that come with protests and shutdowns. It's dire -- people get injured," she said.

But, says Tshabalala, Wits' participation in the protest will help make the movement even stronger.

"It is important to consolidate a national strategy," she said.

Wits will be giving a final decision on its involvement in the movement after the incoming SRC is sworn into office.

Probe into funding of #FMF

Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) are investigating whether secret service account money was used to fund certain aspects of the #FeesMustFall movement, News24 reported on Tuesday.

This comes following allegations leveled against government officials who were believed to have been involved in influencing the #FeesMustFall campaign.

It is alleged that crime intelligence operatives were involved in the campaign and set up a front company, apparently to recruit students to infiltrate it.

The company was used to change student activities surrounding the #FeesMustFall movement and offered them bursaries.

"One of the modus operandi is to create demand that is not there and do emergency procurement. The reasons for deviation from normal procurement processes are fictitious," Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said.