NADEL media statement: Protests for free, quality higher education
The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) is deeply disturbed by the downward spiral that the current protests for free, quality higher education have taken.
There is undoubtedly merit in the demands made by students. These demands are located squarely within our Constitution and the right to education as set out in Section 29 thereof. The state must make higher education progressively available and accessible through reasonable measures.
President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, on 18 January 2015 ratified the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights by which the state is bound to make higher education equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every means and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.
However we note with great concern that a legitimate struggle is now being compromised by the closure of universities, violence and the burning of important infrastructure and buildings. This infrastructure is required for the full enjoyment of the right itself and for the prosperity of future generations. Much needed financial capacity will be diverted to repair and rebuild such infrastructure.
It is therefore the responsibility of NADEL, as public interest lawyers, to now intervene for the promotion of social justice. NADEL has taken the decision to provide legal assistance to students who have been arrested during the protests. This is based on students’ rights to legal representation and in the pursuit of access to justice for everyone.
NADEL’s role will also take a more constructive form in assisting students to explore and exhaust all legal measures that may be available to them, in the pursuit of greater democracy in general and the realisation of the right to free higher education in particular.
NADEL offers serious words of caution to students to respect the rule of law and avoid further arrests.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS (NADEL), SOUTH AFRICA.
By: Memory Sosibo
Publicity Secretary, NADEL Executive Committee,
Contact: 081 710 7910