As part of the governmental process for transformation of institutions through re-structuring and mergers in Post-Apartheid South Africa, historically White and Non-White universities and tecknikons were merged to form new institutions.
In January 2004, the historically Black institutions, Technikon Northern Gauteng (formerly named Technikon Northern Transvaal) based in Soshanguve and Technikon North West based in Ga-Rankuwa, were merged with the historically White Technikon Pretoria, to form the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).
The institution continued to expand post-merger, and formed new satellite campuses in Mbombela and Emalahleni in Mpumalanga, and in Polokwane in Limpopo. TUT now has a total of nine satellite campuses and six campus regions. TUT is the biggest contact university in South Africa, enrolling approximately 60 000 students each year.
Infrastructure and service disparities still exist between the historically Black TUT campuses and the historically White Pretoria campus. Student leaders
In 2008 a body of students from the Shoshunguva and Ga-Rankuwa campuses, protested against fee hikes and academic exclusion, and handed over a memorandum at the administrative building on the main campus in Pretoria. Lectures on both campuses, as well as the Pretoria-West campus were suspended and several student protesters were arrested. Both worker and student protests continued to emerge regularly at TUT over the following years.
Student protests at public universities and colleges over financial exclusions speak directly to the issue of inadequate governmental and other funding into education in South Africa. An estimated R900-million per annum for student funding is needed for TUT to function as an institution that still works for qualifying students requiring financial aid.
NFAS, a loan and bursary scheme the government introduced in 1999 to give financially poor matrics access to university education, provides only a portion of this amount to students who need financial aid at TUT. For example, in 2014, the state scheme funded half the university students that qualified for its loans and bursaries at TUT. NSFAS was still unable to fund an estimated 10 000 students across TUT’s campuses who needed and qualified for financial aid in 2014, despite having obtained an additional allocation of R1-billion for that year; of which R270-million was allocated for TUT.
In 2015, the situation was further exacerbated as the NSFAS allocation excluded that portion. The 2015 SRC estimated that over 20 000 returning students across the University’s six campus regions, were excluded that year. Many of these students were funded by NSFAS in 2014, but were left out in 2015, and were not allowed to register without an upfront payment and were also barred from receiving their results without settling their debt.
Students at institutions including the Vaal University of Technology, the University of Johannesburg, the University of Venda and the Walter Sisulu University were also facing similar issues around the same time.
Following waves of student and worker protest at TUT; on 24 February 2015, TUT management and the Central Student Representative Council (CSRC) reached a formal written agreement, in which a minimum amount of fees required to register was agreed upon. It was also agreed that “students who were funded by the NSFAS in 2014 and owe the University outstanding debt and have no NSFAS-funding in 2015, will be allowed to register with outstanding debt, on certain conditions”.
In October 2015, amidst re-emergent student protest, TUT students drafted a memorandum of demands, which included, amongst other issues, the funding of students who were left out of NSFAS earlier in the year, that was handed over to the University’s management. In response, protesting students were told that NSFAS funds had been depleted and therefore the memorandum could not be adhered to.
Around this time #FeesMustFall was becoming a nationwide student movement in South Africa and the President, Jacob Zuma, addressed the national crises on live television on 23 October 2015. President Zuma announced a zero % increase in fees for 2016.
Students at TUT continued protesting after the announcement. Student protesters were demanding that the University management respond to their demands which had not been addressed; including demands to cancel outstanding debt so student’s results will be released before exams and demands to end outsourscing at the University. As part of protest-action during this time, students blockaded entrances to the main campus in Pretoria and disrupted meetings between management and the SRC.
Protests have continued into 2016 on TUT campuses. On the 21 October 2016, Benjamin Phehla while protesting inbetween the north and south Shoshanguve campuses. Phela was ellegedly accidentlly collided with by a passing-by motorist. Two thers were also injusred in the collision.
The struggle of Fees Must Fall movements can be seen as legitimised through the 1955 Freedom Charter, which is one of the founding documents of South Africa’s democracy. The Freedom Charter states, “Education shall be free, compulsory and universal and and equal for all children”, under the section, “The doors of learning and of culture shall be opened”.
Free education has also been promised by the Post-Apartheid ANC-led South African government under the Presidencies of President Nelson Ronnihlahla Mandela. In the ANC’s 1994 Election Manifestio it states, “An ANC government will make education a priority. The challenge is immense, but it will not require finding more money. We need to ensure that the R23-billion set aside is used for the benefit of all”.
The Fees Must Fall movements and related movements and discourse, have shifted to a greater emphasis on the debate and efforts around attaining free education, including an understanding of education in an African context, that is decolonised and Afro-centric. Various professionals, including acedemics, civil servants and people involved in relative industries, are investigating and coming up with arguments whether free education in South Africa is plausible, and how and who it can and should be provided for, and what would free quality education entail.
Disclaimer: This timeline forms part a research project that aims to create an extensive database of information on recent student movements in the Gauteng Region, South Africa.
This timeline is a work in progress and is subject to edits and updates.
The timeline is a work in progress and is subject to be reviewed, edited and updated. Any queries, flagging of events or other suggestions can be directed to, email@example.com
The timeline makes use of news reporting, statements, social media, first-person testimonies and feedback for it's substance.
The University Council, with the participation of a student representative who sits on the Council, decide on an average fee increase of 9%. Which later gets trimmed down to 8,5%.
On Monday 18 February, students from the Garankuwa and Soshanguve campuses protest in front of the administrative building at the University over fee hikes and academic exclusion. A memorandum is handed over from protesters to University’s council. The memorandum stipulates the University has until Wednesday to respond to its demands.
The University suspends all lectures on the Shoshanguva, Garankuwa and Pretoria West campuses amidst the student protests.
On Wednesday 20 February, lectures are still suspended as student protests continue. A body of student protesters, numbering in the hundreds, protest on the University’s main campus in Pretoria West, demanding a response to the memorandum that was delivered. The protest is in accordance with the memorandum delivered to the University two days prior.
A door at a lecture hall is allegedly broken by student protesters. Police allegedly shoot rubber bullets at protesting students.
About 10 students from the TUT are arrested on the University’s campus. “They were arrested after they destroyed university property…They will face charges of malicious damage to property,” said Pretoria West Police Captain Dumisani Ndlazi.
The Education Department meets with student leaders in response to student protests.
The South African Union of Students (SAUS), which represents most student representative councils (SRCs) of universities in South Africa, confirmed that it attended the meeting.
“I do not know the outcome of the meeting as it was a closed meeting,” said the Universiy spokesperson, Wila De Ruyter.
Student protests continue at TUT, but media coverage of events are scarce.
Department of Education provides an additional grant, which enables ‘the University to reduce the approved class fee increase from 10% to 9%, one percent of which will go to student bursaries’.
On 24 January 2009, the National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the National Union of Tertiary Employees of South Africa (Nutesa) begin a strike over wages. Registration at TUT is brought to a halt.
De Ruyter, spokesperson for the University, says the deadlock between the two parties is due to the capping of the salaries of over 300 workers following the implementation of a new market-related remuneration policy.
A few days into the strike, protesters are shot with rubber bullets by police and several protesters are injured.
A meeting between unions and University management is held. No agreement is reached.
On 4 February, union members continue picketing at the Pretoria campus over the salary dispute, as the Soshanguve and Ga-Rankuwa campuses are closed. Students are prevented from registering.
“What the management is not telling the public is that we initially came up with the universal 10% wage increment for all staff members and they are proposing a conditional one… some staff members would only get 8% and some even a 6% increase, which the union is rejecting”, said Nehawu branch treasurer Lazarus Mthetha.
De Ruyter allegedly disputed Mthetha’s claims.
Central Student Representative Council (CSRC) president and the treasurer of the Garankuwa SRC, Lincoln Morgan, announces that the SRC would buy into the strike action in support of the unions because students are being compromised in the process. Morgan said that “management has since agreed to discuss a recovery plan for lost academic time”.
On 11 February, five people, including a journalist and a disabled student, are physically injured during a conflict with police on the University’s Pretoria campus.
An investigation into police action during a protest at TUT in Pretoria is being taken up, says the Gauteng minister for community safety, Firoz Cachali.
On Tuesday 17 February, Education Minister Naledi Pandor and African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema meet in private in Boksburg to discuss the worker strike at TUT.
Education spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said the minister had also met both the union and University management in a bid to resolve the strike.
A Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration is held where an agreement between the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the university is signed.
The wage agreement entails a 10% across-the-board salary increase from March, which will be backdated to January.
TUT is set to reopen on Friday, 20 February, according to University Chancellor and Principal, Errol Tyobeka.
TUT Council approves a general tuition fee increase of 7.5% for next year, 2010, a 6.5% fee increase for tuition fees and “1% for bursaries for needy and deserving students”. Flat rate increases for residences.
A body of students begin protesting financial exclusion and campus conditions on Shoshanguve campus. Protests are led by the student organisation - the Pan Africanist Movement of Azania (PASMA) and SRC members.
On Thursday 28 January, TUT obtains a court interdict against certain members of PASMA and other student protesters.
The executive management committee closes the Shoshanguve campus indefinitely, citing ‘lawlessness’, ‘hooliganism’, ‘alcohol’ and ‘drug’ abuse.
Subsequently, hundreds of students are ordered to vacate the institution's premises in the afternoon and SRC members are suspended, in an effort to cease political activities on the Shoshanguve campus.
Gilbert Mokwatedi, a spokesperson for the University, says the University is showing students who have homes far away from campus "compassion" by allowing them to stay overnight in their residences.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande was due to visit TUT on this day, as part of a series of visits to higher education and training institutions to monitor the registration process.
He, instead, sends a task team led by his special adviser, Gwebindaba Qonde, to intervene as the registration process on the campus is being disrupted.
On Friday 29 January, about 400 students residing at the campus remain. The University
is surveying the remaining students for protesters, including non-students.
"We are getting reports that there are criminal elements on campus masquerading as real students…" We requested proof to show they are registered students and to show proof that they are allowed to stay in residences." says Mokwatedi.
On 30 January, students continue to protest. They are also protesting the eviction of students from their residences.
Police use teargas and rubber bullets to disperse and evacuate students protesters off the Shoshanguve campus. Several protesting students throw stones and rocks at the police.
On Friday 29 July, Johnny Molefe, is appointed VC of TUT. Claims that Molefe’s doctorate has been fabricated began circulating a month prior to his appointment. Molefe allegedly knew four years ago, that South Africa’s statutory qualifications authority (SAQA) would not recognise his doctorate. Molefe told the press that he never received the registered letter that SAQA said it sent him in May 2007. SAQA refused to accredit Molefe in 2007 and again in 2011.
The TUT Council, which appointed him, backs Molefe, saying it knew nothing about any questions about his qualifications until March 2011, says Council spokesperson Robert Matlhare.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, appointed an independent assessor, last year 15 June 2010, to investigate severe council and executive management dysfunction at TUT and repeated student and worker protests.
The inquiry is headed by Dr Vincent Maphai and a report is published in the government gazette on 22 November 2010. The report identifies serious problems in the governance and management of TUT, which is identified as stemming from the human resource portfolio of the institution.
Situational examples given are management’s failure to talk with labour unions and its undecided handling of the institution’s procurement processes. The report is followed by the institution issuing various directives that must be followed by TUT management, failing which the institution will be placed under administration.
On Tuesday 16 August- two weeks after the controversial appointment of Molefe as VC, Higher Education Director-General, Gwebinkundla Qonde, announces that TUT has been placed under administration by Nzimande, with immediate effect.
Nzimande invokes legislation to dissolve TUT’s council and appoints Professor Themba Mosia as an administrator to replace the University’s council and Molefe.
Qonde says Molefe will continue being paid his salary of almost R2.2-million a year, as he remains in the employ of the University. However, council members will not be paid
Members of the TUT council that defied Nzimande by appointing Molefe have applied to the North Gauteng High Court to overturn the minister’s appointment of administrator Mosia.
The application argues that TUT came nowhere near the dire governance conditions the law says must prevail to justify the appointment of an administrator. The application also argues that Nzimande has combined in Mosia two roles that the law says must be separate: that of a university’s accounting authority (normally a council) and of the accounting officer (normally a V.C.).
“We now have [TUT run by] an individual who reports to the minister directly. You can’t have a place run by someone appointed by a politician who also reports to that politician”, says Molefe’s attorney, Daniel Ramothwala.
Nzimande places Walter Sisulu University (WSU) under administration and announces on Wednesday, 2 November- that Lourens van Staden, the deputy VC of TUT, will take over administration of WSU.
The CCMA rules that Molefe’s dismissal was procedurally and substantively unfair. It rules that he be reinstated but to his original post and not as acting VC with reported earnings of R2.4-million a year.
On 6 June, TUT administrator Mosia says the University would contest the decision, which was made by the CCMA. Mosia argues that Molefe’s contract for other positions expired on January 31 2011.
Student protests start-up again early in the month on the Soshanguve campus. The SRC and other student bodies are also involved in the protests. Protesters are demanding a better-quality education, leniency for students who cannot afford their fees and also address worker demands.
NSFAS has failed to pay tuition fees for at least 30% of students who rely on financial aid. Students claim the funding body told students they were not eligible for funding after months of having their names put on the waiting list.
Students are also protesting that the food served in residences is unhygienic and unhealthy, and they are not allowed to cook in their rooms.
On Friday 10 August, following a week of disruptive student protests, the institution's management closes the Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa and the Pretoria campuses.
The closure of the campuses soon spreads to the campuses in Emalahleni and Bombela, in Mpumalanga as protests gain momentum.
On 14 August, TUT officially shuts down all its campuses indefinitely, also including the Emalahleni, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Arcadia and Arts campuses.
TUT management sends out letters to students requesting that they evacuate the building.
TUT obtains a court order against students to prohibit students from protesting at all its campuses.
A body of protesting TUT students hand over a memorandum of grievances to TUT VC Nthabiseng Ogude.
Police are patrolling the Pretoria campus.
Student leaders confirm they will continue protesting outside the premises to force management to allow them back into the institution.
A protesting student tells the media, “We are going to continue the strike until we get our homes back and until we get people who are excluded back, whether academically or financially”.
On 17 August, students move the protest action to the Pretoria campus and blockade the entrance. Students also burn tyres and sing struggle songs to have their concerns dealt with by TUT management.
On Friday 17 August, a response to the memorandum of demands handed over to the institution’s management is reported to be communicated.
On 20 August, TUT's executive management committee holds a meeting and releases a statement, announcing that TUT campuses will be shut until further notice because of disruptive protests.
On 21 August, students at the Pretoria campus, are being evacuated amidst student protests.
On Friday 24 August, Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mduduzi Manana meets with the TUT’s CSRC, and agrees that their concerns are valid. Government representatives also meet with TUT management.
On 28 August, PASMA and PAC in Gauteng call for a solidarity protest march to Union Buildings.
Following an over five week labour dispute at WSU, there is a heavy police and private security presence on campus. WSU University Administration begin evicting students off campus. 16 student protesters (including 7 female and 9 male) are arrested by police on campus.
“We appeal to all organizations, NGOs, Trade Unions, etc to come and embark with us in progressive protest aimed at not only resolving the crisis at WSU but further exposing the bankruptcy of the current capitalistic neo-Apartheid regime.”
On 30 August,
The PASMA and PAC protest march to the Union Buildings, that is scheduled for today to demand free education has been broadened to including solidarity with WSU students and workers.
Students begin protesting a lack of funds from NSFAS as the University opens for registration.
According to SRC president Mboniseni Dladla, NSFAS’s shortfall threatens the education of about 10 000 students across TUT’s campuses. This means they will be unable to receive their academic results for 2014, and will be barred from registering next year.
On 30 January, TUT management suspends classes and closes the University until further notice.
On the same day, Nzimande announces that R1-billion will be added to the NSFAS. He says that NSFAS had a shortfall of R2.6-billion in 2013.
On Friday 31 January, the University obtains a court order stopping protests at it campuses.
"Residence students this morning left all the university's campuses peacefully after they were requested to evacuate residences by 7.30am," says, De Ruyter.
On Saturday 1 February, The Socialist Youth Movement (SYM) and the institution's SRC, wins an interdict at the High Court in Pretoria against the unlawful eviction of students. The University is ordered to pay the costs of the court application.
SA Students Congress (Sasco) and the University's SRC launch an appeal to the ANC Regional Parliamentary Constituency Office to find accommodation for students who came from distant parts of the country and had no resources to immediately travel home.
Following a meeting between the SRC and management, De Ruyter reports the following agreements have been reached between the two parties:
- All financial blocks on students be removed to enable students to register and not be disadvantaged by lack of money;
- The university transfers R10-million from its budget to help academically deserving and financially needy students;
- The university consult with NSFAS and the department of higher education and training to get more money. A response was being awaited; and
- Students who qualified for NSFAS funding in 2013 but had failed to sign their contracts had been contacted and advised to do so.
On 3 February, TUT releases a statement, that students will be allowed to start moving back into residences from today and that TUT will reopen its campuses this week on 5 February.
SYM national convenor, Elmond Magedi, calls for students to continue protesting as the court interdict does not stop them from doing so but merely restricts the disruption of academic activities.
Security has been tightened at all campuses and the registration period has been extended.
Ndlela Xaba, officer of student affairs and extra-curricular development in the CSRC, told media that security guards woke him up at about 1am on Monday, 15 September, to give him a suspension letter along with other members of SRC.
“The letter doesn’t state reasons. It just notifies us of the suspension of SRC,” said Ndlela.
Management issued a statement over the weekend saying classes would resume this coming Wednesday 17 September.
Xaba says, “We didn’t start the strike, the students did. But we [got involved out of an] understanding that an unorganised strike will cause chaos like burning of buses.”
“They have insufficient funds to pay for those students that they have approved [for NSFAS funding]. You can’t approve people and then send them SMSs later in the year that you can’t pay for them,” said Dladla.
On Monday 22 September, Nzimande, condemns violent protests at TUT, “I particularly condemn the recent violence and destruction of property that has taken place at the TUT, which has continued into the weekend… Property has been destroyed and vandalised, and the lives of individuals have been put at risk.”
Nzimande also calls on TUT’s management and police to act against anyone who contributed to violence and destruction on TUT campuses. “It is also clear now that there is a criminal element in operation here, whose intention is not to advance the interests of students and the institution”, he adds.
Nzimande also says, “It should be noted that [NSFAS] is disbursing just over R9-billion in loans and bursaries in the 2014 academic year. This is a substantial amount, with TUT being the largest university recipient of NSFAS funding, receiving an allocation of over R453-million for the 2014 academic year.”
On 26 September, TUT releases a statement that campuses are set to resume on Monday, 29 September.
“The two week-long protest action was sparked by the lack of funding for students to study. In a bid to address the issue a meeting of the full TUT Council also approved a proposal from the university to ensure that R46-million in student loans is made available to assist a group of 2 500 unfunded students for the remainder of 2014.”
This is in addition to R30-million, which the University has made available this year to cover a shortfall of funding by NSFAS for returning students.
In early November, Professor Nthabiseng Ogude, resigns from her post as VC of TUT. The news begins circulating that she did not resign voluntarily, but was instead pushed out by the institution’s council.
The council allegedly told Ogude in a special meeting held two weeks prior.
Ogude was appointed on 1 August 2012 and became TUT’s first woman VC. She is the third successive VC at TUT to vacate the position before the end of their contract.
She is leaving TUT at the end of November. Lourens van Staden, who returned to the institution some months ago after serving as Administrator at the WSU on request of Nzimande, will act as VC after her leave.
Ogude allegedly had a broken working relationship in executive management and the council wanted to bring in someone who can unite management. This allegedly includes failure to resolve the students’ funding protests that have been recently disrupring the institution.
In 2014 NSFAS managed to obtain an additional allocation of R1-billion. Subsequently, TUT’s 2014 allocation included R270-million from the R1-billion, which was a once-off allocation.
In 2015 the allocation excludes that portion. The SRC estimates over 20 000 returning students across the University’s campuses have been excluded, a predicament compounded by NSFAS’s decision to cut allocations to the institution.
Students at institutions including the Vaal University of Technology, the University of Johannesburg, the University of Venda and the Walter Sisulu University are also facing a similar predicament.
On 5 February, Pinky Phosa, who is representing the ruling ANC in Parliament, and is serving as the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, attends a committee session held at Soshanguve campus. Phosa appeals to thousands of unfunded university students to return to their respective homes as a way of averting humanitarian crises and conflict on campuses.
“I’m not going to transmit that message [to the excluded students]. That is a non-starter. For a Member of Parliament who earns over R70 000 [a month] that is a luxury that she can afford to say… Majority of the students that I’m leading in this university don’t have running water [in accommodation they rent around Soshanguve], they don’t have access to electricity, and they don’t have the basic comforts that people in the cities take for granted. Those are the students we are serving and we’re going to be true to them”, says Modise in response to Phosa’s attempt to sway the SRC to convince unfunded students to halt protests and return home.
Police were present during the session and escorted diruptive students out the session.
Msulwa Daca, the chief executive of NSFAS, confirmed in the session that the scheme has decreased allocation to TUT this year. He said increased funding last year was due to special funding arrangements, which were no longer in place.
Modise responded by saying to media, “How do you explain someone moving funding from R633-million [to 475-million]? Over R158-million has been chopped in the last two months… We actually need a total of R900-million of student funding to function as an institution. What are they giving us? They are giving us just more or less 50% of what we actually require.”
Protests continue as protesting students allegedly number in the thousands. Students and the SRC are demanding that students who were funded by NSFAS in 2014, but were left out this year, be allowed to register without any upfront payment.
The SRC is also demanding that the meal allowance of all funded students be increased to R700 a month, from the current R400. In response, the University told the SRC such an increase on meals would “add an amount of R42-million, and that will deplete NSFAS funds quicker and fewer students will be assisted. Levies for 2015 are already fixed”.
Major conflict occurs between private security and the police with students. Teargas is thrown at a group of students by private security guards contracted by the institution. Five students at the Soshanguve North campus are treated for teargas inhalation.
TUT reports there are incidents at the Ga-Rankuwa and eMalahleni campuses as well.
Modise publicly accuses management of spending R500 an hour on each security guard, amidst fees shortage crises.
Management suspends academic activities at Soshanguve North and South, Ga-Rankuwa and Mbombela campuses.
Protests of a similar nature begin erupting on three of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s campuses, with at least one person ending up in hospital and another arrested.
On the same day, TUT management confirms that there is still no resolution to the protests which led to lectures being suspended at all campuses.
Two weeks after protests began disrupting activities on Soshanguve campuses, north of Pretoria, and later in other areas including Mpumalanga; management is in meetings with students between 17 February and 19 February, in a bid to resolve points of contention.
Van Staden later announces, he has reached an agreement with TUT’s student leadership to end the boycott and disruption of classes. The negotiated agreement entails TUT will be releasing R16-million from its merit bursary programme to 500 of the excluded students.
“I said to myself: ‘Let’s reallocate this R16-million to students who are financially needy.’ Most of the students who are excelling [and have merit bursaries] come from rich families. They have all the support. And so, let’s move the [bursary] money to where we need it most”, says van Staden
The negotiations also results in a “special dispensation” for about 700 final-year students, van Staden said. Students will be allowed to register after paying the institution’s R1500 registration fee; regardless of their debts from last year.
The university has agreed to the same arrangement for a further 3 800 returning students regarding their registration fees.
Van Staden notes the national policy forbids him to enrol students without their paying upfront the minimum they owe.
Van Staden also makes a bid deposit into the fund from his salary every month for a year.
Modise, who led the students during negotiations, tells media the University’s management would not have rescued any students if they had not held protests
“Truth be told, corporate entities are by their very nature profit-driven and they want to make as much money as possible… They are not in the business of forking out money. So student leadership played a pivotal role in what became the deal, as it were.”
He also adds: “Credit to Van Staden. He showed he is a progressive leader. He understood where we were as students. That’s why he made these concessions.”
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