Spartacist South Africa No. 14

January 2017


Partisan Defense Committee Letter

We reprint below a protest letter that the Partisan Defense Committee (PDC) sent to president Jacob Zuma on 25 October 2016. A minor factual correction, giving a more accurate figure for university drop-out rates, has been incorporated. The PDC is a class-struggle, non-sectarian legal and social defence organisation, based in the US, which champions cases and causes in the interest of the whole of the working people. This purpose is in accordance with the political views of the Spartacist League/U.S. and the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist).

The Partisan Defense Committee condemns the brutal police attacks against South African university students demanding free quality education. Police atrocities under the direction of the Tripartite Alliance government include the arrest of over 500 students, apartheid-era early morning raids on dormitories and homes of sleeping students and the use of tear gas and rubber bullets.

Students from Pretoria to Johannesburg to Cape Town to Durban—such as Mcebo Dlamini, former Student Representative Council president at Wits University and Masixole Mlandu, University of Cape Town student leader—have been arrested, detained and denied bail, reminiscent of the dreaded General Laws Amendment Act of B.J. Vorster and Special Branch operations of the 1960s. Police have also fired on individuals trying to attend classes, students taking refuge in a church, as well as campus workers, some of whom were simply trying to defend students from police violence. One student leader remains in the hospital after rubber bullets were fired at her point-blank in the back. Much of the police repression has been directed at predominantly black students who live in dormitories on campuses.

We stand in solidarity with the protesting students and their demand for free quality education, without which black youth are condemned to low-paid jobs or forced into South Africa’s existing unemployed masses. A mere 3.2 percent of black youth aged 18 to 29 attend schools of higher education, and of that figure, some 60 percent drop out.

The PDC demands an immediate halt to all police attacks, their withdrawal from all campuses and freedom for all arrested student protesters. We demand that all charges be dropped against all student protesters and that they be reinstated in their schools.