Imraan Christian photographs South Africa's #NationalShutDown in Cape Town.
All photos by Imraan Christian
Today, what started as a student-led protest of tuition fees at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg last Wednesday, became a nationwide day of mass action in South Africa. Imraan Christian was on the frontlines in Cape Town. Below is his unfiltered account from the #NationalShutDown.
Today, students across South Africa held a nationwide shutdown of universities in protest of the 10.8% fee increases proposed for next year. In Cape Town, students from the University of Cape Town, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and University of the Western Cape, along with supporters of the student movement, mobilised and conducted a peaceful protest outside parliament in preparation for Blade Nzimande’s address, which was scheduled for 2pm.
Instead, we were made to wait an hour, then we were met with what I would describe as a military operation conducted by the South African Police Services, taken straight from the days of Apartheid. DIVIDE - INTIMIDATE - BRUTALIZE. In gangs of policeman, they beat our sisters to the ground, trampled their defenseless bodies, threw stun grenades, smoke grenades, pepper spray, and cordoned off the students into smaller groups so that they could fuck us up even more. In order to disperse the crowd, the police, now on motorbikes and armed with guns with rubber bullets, set off on a path of what can only be described as sadistic police brutality.
We are unarmed, intelligent students who understand that if we allow fees to go up by 10%, then in ten years time, fees will be doubled, and blacks will become uneducated cheap labour- once again, fit only for building the palaces of white supremacy.
Blade Nzimande - You will answer for your actions against us. You cannot run. You cannot hide.
South African Police Services - Most of you pigs were black, and you brutalised students who were fighting for the education of your black children. At the end of the day you are a person, so every time you look at your own children, I hope the memory of today haunts you and you go to your grave knowing you are owned by the white devil; in this case- the Devil just happens to be Blade.
To my sisters, you are the leaders of the revolution. I am honoured to have stood by your side today. You are all Lion Queens, you are our future.
To my brothers, the connection of fire is so strong, I can feel it flowing as I type this. I have only true love and respect for each and every one of you.
My heart goes out the the students who were arrested by police and are still being brutalised, please share this message so that we can put pressure on South African Police Services to release them.
I’m not even a student. I graduated from UCT last year. I was at the protest as a journalist for Okayafrica, but because I’m young and black, 4 of you pigs thought it’s appropriate to fuck me up as a gang- and I’ll give it to you, you got me good. But now it’s my turn, and I’m gonna kick you hard in your poes.
TOMMOROW WE OCCUPY BREMNAR, MIDDLE CAMPUS UCT- THIS IS A MASS CALL TO ALL ALLIES TO SHOW SUPPORT.
CHILDREN OF AZANIA, ITS TIME TO RISE.