TITS UP AGAINST VIOLENCE
By: Palesa Matjebele
#FeesMustFall all started in 2015 when students protested for no fee increase towards higher education after Blade Nzimande confirmed that there would be an 8% increase, after intense protests that took place the government had no choice but to comply with the students’ requests.
Second episode of #FeesMustFall then made a return in 2016 where students demanded that they be given a free education but the issues were broad and did not only focus specifically on education; there were various other issues that were brought to light, amongst others were colonialism as black students took it upon themselves to fully address all the boundaries they were still restricted to even in the new South Africa of democracy and equality. Students also wanted all apartheid statues removed as they were seen as remarks of insults to black students and lecturers.
Witwatersrand university students were so determined to get their voice across even when the police force tried to control the situation by what they considered to be a form of violence against innocent students who were fighting for their promised fair and equal rights. Students also retaliated and threw stones and bricks back at the police but when they were fired stun grenades and rubber bullets, but things got pretty interesting when three female students unexpectedly took their shirts off and the protest turned out to be a protest against police enforcing unnecessary violence on students.
The act received a lot of mixed reactions from the public after the videos and pictures quickly made their fair share of rounds on the social media, people took on to twitter and Facebook to comment and share their opinions as we all have the right to utter our opinions on anything, everyone instantly became an opinion specialist for whatever reasons.
Some comments showed support while some funnily labelled as the naked ninjas and some comments were just not so kind with the comic Skhumba Hlophe of Khaya FM radio station went as far as to making body-shaming comments on three women where he said that their breasts were not appealing and not worthy to be shown off plus they had stretch marks and big tummies, he even made comments about the University being a disappointment for not having students who were sexy enough or beautiful enough. He jokingly said that at least only if they had tennis-ball like breast then it would have been better unlike having sagging breasts on display, the institution was associated with SASSA for their accepting requirements and policies.
Hlengiwe Ndlovu, who was at the time working on thesis towards her PHD explained the significance of the brave act to Times Live newspaper saying “The moment that we stepped into the protest‚ because as much we were displaying the intolerance of violence‚ at the same time‚ it was a form of resistance to say the very same woman’s body is capable of ceasing fire and no one from national or local government could stop it,” it was all about showing the power of a woman’s body.
An online with over 3 000 signatures was soon signed, with request that Skhumba be removed from the Dj line-up until he apologised as he was disrespectful to women in general. He later made comments on Instagram via another video where he explained that “The worst thing in life is to be misunderstood. I would like to say to all the women that were affected, I would really like to apologise…If it sits wrong with you I am really sorry and I hope we find a way forward from this.”
The whole concept of going topless was seen pulling a daredevil which then led to misinterpretations, but it meant no harm as its purpose was to get the message across and symbolises power as a woman’s body is that strong, it endures a lot of pain and torture in many cases yet it still reigns with pride.