An injury to one is an injury to all
The working class is under attack again, this time with the brutal murder of Mthokozisi Ntumba during student protests over financial exclusion, decolonized education and for free education. The murder in Braamfontein shows how police brutality and violence is systemic and has been institutionalized, since the inception of the colonial and apartheid era South African Police.
Today, what we know is that the police kill three times more people per capita than police in the United States. This brutal murder by the police demonstrates how every black person in Braamfontein becomes a suspect when the police starting shooting or hunting for students. It is clear that the police role has extended to a militia to kill any resistances from the working class.
The state’s commitment to a neoliberal agenda and the demotion of public welfare in favor of privatisation is the root cause of the problems we face today. Following austerity measures and saving private capital such as the Edcon group remain the bedrock policies of the neoliberal budget, while on the other hand, the working-class has been led up the pyramids steps to be sacrificed. This sacrifice includes the continuing alienation of students of the working class from universities in large number through financial exclusions.
Every year, students across the country are protesting demanding free education or simply to register. However, the response from universities together with the state has been the militarization of campuses through getting its own paramilitary groups by employing bouncers. This repressive strategy aims to cleanse itself of the revolutionary character of resistance from students that are against exclusions and seeking de-alienation of working class students.
Education should be accessible to all and all those who qualify should be allowed to registration with or without outstanding fees. In addition, protest within universities must not lead to an immediate expulsion or be criminalized as it is now, but it should be regarded as an expression of disaffection with the university modus-operandi or status-quo.
Universities must be demilitarized and made a space of learning where ideas are debated. It cannot be allowed that universities are turned into war-zones whereby police are armed with heavy-weapons, grenade, rubber-bullets and teargas. The budget that goes towards bouncers should instead be channeled towards funding students or other university programmes.
Like the students, workers have also befallen the same fate. The attacks in changes to labour relations acts, retrenchments and the state’s failure to honour the last year of a previous wage deal. The working class is faced with unemployment, poverty, inequalities, eviction and other socio-economic issues that are exacerbated by Covid-19. These are clear indications that the working class is under attack and the state, in order to survive, has to unleash some of its brute forces like it did in Eldorado Park, with the killing of Nathaniel Julius, and the unlawful eviction in Khayelitsha.
Such violence is inevitable for upholding a system based on using the work of millions for the profits of a few shareholders, where children do not get enough to eat while millionaires plan to picnic on Mars. Police brutality is built into capitalism. Financial exclusions are the result of a system that sees education as a way to provide skills for the economy and not as a way to expand a human.
All sections of the working class should unite to defend the students and themselves against the coercive forces of the state, austerity budget, unemployment, retrenchment and poverty. This is a call for the working class to build from below, to join forces against austerity budget and the attacks it is facing.