The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has welcomed the decision not to hike university fees for poor and missing middle students as a temporary relief.

The SAUS has added that those students who come from families who can afford to pay, must do so.

The union released a statement on its Facebook page this morning, two days after Minister Blade Nzimande announced that universities could determine for themselves the increase they’d add for next year’s fees, not exceeding 8%. He added that all students from households earning less than R600 000 a year, would be exempt from paying the increases.

“We view this temporal measure as a concession to the working class and the poor, a progressive step towards the attainment of Free education for the poor,” SAUS said. “The poor and missing middle must find relief, THE RICH MUST PAY.”

“We cant all benefit from government intervention, not whilst South Africa remains the most unequal society in the world with a Gini-Coefficient of 0,67. Not whilst the economy and land remains in the hands of the few, who in the main are beneficiaries of Apartheid. Not whilst majority of students use public transport because of circumstance while some drive fancy vehicles because their parents are rich. Thus The Poor must find relief THE RICH MUST PAY [sic],” SAUS went on.

SAUS added that accepting the decision doesn’t mean it has abandoned its struggle for free education, but that it has accepted it based on the following:

1. It remains a recommendation not a determination
2. Government has committed to pay increases for the poor and missing middle for the first time
3. It is a temporal measure, not a solution to free education because there is a commission dealing with that.

The statement is however contradictory to what students and student leaders across South African universities have expressed over Nzimande’s announcement.

Violent protests erupted at Wits University and the University of Cape Town shortly after the announcement was made.

Students at the Tshwane University of Technology, University of Pretoria and the University of KwaZulu-Natal also began protesting yesterday.

All protesting students have rejected the 0% increment for poor and missing middle students, calling for university education to be totally free.

“We believe Private Sector must play a meaningful role into the funding of higher education, because private sector is a great beneficiary from graduates. It is for this reason that on 14-10-2016 we together with Trade Unions will be Occupying the Chamber of Mines and JSE in a bid to force the sector to fund higher education [sic],” SAUS said.

You can read the full statement below: