Remember #FeesMustFall and Free the Fallists
In commemoration of Youth Day 2018, a collective of civil society organisations and activists have come together to launch a campaign aimed at highlighting the plight of #FeesMustFall activists whose lives have been adversely affected by their involvement in the protests that took place in 2015/2016.
As we commemorate forty-two years since the historic June 16th protests in 1976, we also reflect on the #FeesMustFall protests where students were criminalised for exercising their constitutional right to protest and for demanding that higher education in South Africa should be free and accessible to all.
These protests were aimed at giving substance to section 29(1)(b) of the Constitution which states that “everyone has the right to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively and accessible”.
In 2018, many of the activists who were involved in the #FeesMustFall protests are still facing criminal charges. Some have been suspended from university and are unable to continue with their studies. Those who have managed to graduate are struggling to find employment as a result of having a criminal record. Many of the activists are still awaiting trial. A substantial number of students who are not activists, but were arrested by riot police, are in the same position.
The extent of the adverse impact that the protests have had on the many student activists is not fully known. There are still questions as how many students are still going through the criminal justice system as a result of the protests and how the various universities have responded through sanctions.
In order to ascertain this information, the South African History Archive, on behalf of the collective, has submitted various Promotion of Access to Information requests to the Department of Justice, South African Police Service and various higher education institutions in a concerted effort to better understand how far the ramifications of the protests go. This will enable a broader understanding of the struggles that #FeesMustFall activists are facing and inform future strategies on how to resolve them.
The collective will be addressing a letter to the National Prosecuting Authority requesting it to respond to the charges against the #FeesMustFall activists who have not been convicted – either by dropping the charges, bringing those arrested before the courts in a timeous fashion in order to exercise their right to a fair trial, or consider other remedial actions.
Education is a universal right and demanding the right to free and accessible education should not be criminalised.
We call for support from all sectors of society using the hashtags #RememberFMF and #FreeTheFallists.
For further comment contact:
Name: Stanley Malematja – Attorney- Right2Protest Project
Contact No: 084 906 5773
Name: Anele Nzimande – Television Producer
Contact No: 079 521 0754
South African History Archive
Socio-Economic Rights Institute
UCT Progressive Alumni
UCT Court Support Collective
Centre for Applied Legal Studies