We're shocked by death of a worker at Wits – SACP

Party urges students to isolate the tiny minority who have no regard for rights of others, and distance themselves from violence and destruction

The SACP is shocked by the death of a worker at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

28 September 2016

The South African Communist Party (SACP) expresses its message of sincere solidarity with, and condolences to the family of the deceased. The worker reportedly died as a consequence of a conduct among protesting students by some elements that took advantage of the protest and released a fire extinguisher adversely affecting the deceased who later died in hospital. What happened is not in the interest of, but against the working class and genuine student struggles.

The SACP is further shocked, considering that the incident took place last week, that the university did not immediately report it both to the wider university community and the public at large for everyone to take appropriate precautionary measures and for proper and transparent remedial action and investigation to take place. The SACP supports the directive by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande for the university to account and for a thoroughgoing investigation into the entire incident.

Any further signs of a failure by the democratic developmental state that we seek to build, to ensure that no person propagates their demands by means of violating the constitutional rights of others – including students who want to pursue their studies – and the fundamental right to life, will only serve to discredit the legitimacy of the state. The SACP is equally worried that actions that violate the rights of other students and workers, including violence and destruction of the very public property needed to deliver education, will undermine whatever genuine concerns that students may have.

To become a power in a society that is based on a democratically adopted constitution and a democratically elected government, progressive and revolutionary students must win the majority to their side by democratic means. It is very important, and the SACP urges students, to isolate the tiny minority of violent and destructive elements that have no regard for the rights of others, and to vehemently distance themselves from the conduct of those elements.

The SACP will, on 14 October 2016 march together with democratic students and our ally, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to the Chamber of Mines – which side by side with finance and other sections of capital – is at the centre of monopoly capitalist exploitation of the people of South Africa. Mining capital participated actively in designing colonial and apartheid oppression in South Africa, and has benefitted enormously from economic exploitation. The objective of the march is to call on capital to contribute to the acceleration of the rollout of free higher education for working class and lower sections of the middle class who cannot afford to pay student fees.

The bourgeoisie are disproportionately the single largest consumers of the labour of education and training graduates, yet their contribution is almost invisible. This is where the problem emanates. It is the very same bourgeoisie who are opposed to corporate tax or are campaigning against any increase in corporate tax needed to finance social programmes such as quality education. What the bourgeoisie want is for poor workers to pay for education through tax and student fees they cannot afford and then deliver their children to them already fully qualified and ready for exploitation for profit maximisation and accumulation of wealth on a private basis without regard to the needs of society!

Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, National Spokesperson, SACP, 28 September 2016