Students at the University of Venda are protesting after meal voucher delays left many without food. But, despite organizing to stop literal fucking starvation, the police response has been brutal, and the media has been quiet.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme provides South African students with funds for books, food, transportation and lodging. For students living under the poverty line, these funds can be crucial. So when technical issues kept students from getting their money on time, it was more than just an inconvenience, making activists’ pledge to shut down the school until everyone can eat a noble goal. Unfortunately, the police disagreed, and have responded to the protests with rubber bullets.
The media’s relative silence is striking. South African student protests have garnered significant coverage, and when police turned on demonstrators at Wits University last year, there was outrage. But Wits is a wealthier, whiter school than Venda, and activists are watching an awful double standard play out: A Wits student made headlines after police shot him with two rubber bullets, but a Venda student struck with 18 is largely ignored.
— BlackThwitha Agent (@twiiter_black) March 30, 2017
As is often the case, social media has stepped up where traditional media has failed. Students have uploaded proof of police brutality directly to the internet, and without the work of activists @twiiter_black and @chulayok, I would have no idea any of this was happening.
All this work to be heard. And all because students need food.