We'll shut down all institutions of higher learning - Sasco
Karabo Ngoepe, News24
Pretoria - Student leaders vowed to completely shut down all institutions of higher learning in the country on Wednesday.
The students are demanding the scrapping of fees at universities.
"We are going to shut down all institutions until management hears that we don't want fees," South African Students Congress (Sasco) Gauteng deputy chairperson Sthembiso Ndlovu said.
"We believe that this is the only vehicle to achieve free education in our lifetime. Most of the institutions, excluding the University of Johannesburg and the Vaal University, have confirmed that they will be in solidarity with us."
Ndlovu said the decision was sparked by the proposed increase of fees by 17% at the Tshwane University of Technology, 40% at the University of Pretoria and 10.5% at the University of Witwatersrand.
"We are saying no to any form of increment," Ndlovu said.
He lashed out at Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande for saying that the current protests were not a national crisis.
On Monday, Nzimande told reporters at a briefing that the current student protests were not a national crisis and could be resolved.
"It is a challenge, but I wouldn't call it a crisis. I am very sympathetic to what the students are saying. We are aware that university education is expensive and that something needs to be done," he said.
According to him, a crisis implied that the situation was so bad that there were no mechanisms to deal with it.
'Minister is suffering from a serious disease'
In this case, there were mechanisms in place, and each institution's vice-chancellor had promised to engage with their students, Nzimande said.
"This armchair critic in the form of Blade thinks students are illiterate and don't know what is confronting them.
"We think that the minister is suffering from a serious disease and we hope he desists from it.
"If it was not a national crisis, the president would not have called a meeting with the vice-chancellors," he said.
Students from various universities have expressed dissatisfaction over fee hikes and registration fees, with many taking to the streets to voice their anger.
Protests started at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) when management announced a fee increment of 10.5%.
The announcement saw students blocking entrances to the institution, resulting in the suspension of academic activities.
The Wits protest was now in its seventh day and has sparked similar protests by students at the University of Cape Town, Rhodes University and Stellenbosch University.
Students at the University of Pretoria also intend to protest the proposed fee increments for 2016.