NEWS
05/01/2018 08:46 SAST | Updated 05/01/2018 08:46 SAST

Higher Education Minister Confident There Will Be No Violence At Universities

Hlengiwe Mkhize says the department is ready to deal with any potential conflicts that may arise during registration.

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University of Cape Town students march during the #FeesMustFall protest on October 03, 2016 in Cape Town,.

Higher education minister Hlengiwe Mkhize is confident that her department will be able to deal with any possible conflict that might occur at universities, Eyewitness News (EWN) reported.

This follows the announcement by Universities South Africa (USAF) that no walk-ins will be allowed when registration opens, following President Jacob Zuma's announcement in December that higher education would be free for students from poor and working-class homes as of 2018. According to News24, students who did not apply to university because of funding problems to apply online at the Department of Higher Education's Central Applications Clearing House.

Wits University's registrar Carol Crosley said the university had already filled its 5664 full-time first-year capacity, and applications closed at the end of September 2017.

Stellenbosch University also reportedly said it could not accommodate any walk-ins.

USAF warned that there could be violence if students stampeded universities hoping to be register. This followed calls by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called on students to invade universities and colleges even if they had not applied.

On Thursday, the EFF Student Command (EFFSC) launched its Sizofundangeni campaign, meaning "We will learn by force".

According to TimesLive, the EFFSC's Phuti Keetsi said the campaign was not intended to cause anarchy, but said that it was necessary to ensure that poor students were not excluded.

"There will be walk-ins‚ and fighters must assist walk-ins with food‚ sanitary towels‚ accommodation and ensure safety and security for every student in and around campus," he reportedly said.

Mkhize called the EFF's call "reckless" on Tuesday. According to eNCA, she said, "There is no way in which a person can walk in and expect to be registered. There is no way to assume that because you have money you can just go to that particular faculty. There is always a criteria people have to meet the needs."

According to EWN, Mkhize said she hoped that no additional security measures would be needed at universities.

"If you securitise these institutions, you lose what's the ethos of an academic institution. Of course, we're in a real world, there will be problems. I still believe our management will have sufficient capacity to pick up early warning signs of conflict," she reportedly said.