Student residents feel like they’re in a military war zone because of protests

By Drum Digital
27 October 2016

The reality of upcoming exams and the ramifications of not writing during the #FeesMustFall protests is starting to dawn on Wits University students as university management insist that exams will go ahead in Novem

ber. 

Tsholofelo Masingwako, a Bachelor of Science student, says she's worried about writing exams because she has been distracted by the protests.

“It’s a catch 22 situation,” she says, adding that “if you decide to go to class some students believe that you do not support the protests but if you don’t go to class you will struggle when it’s time for exams. We’re caught between marching and studying.”

Her best friend Vhuhwavho Makhado is also concerned because she says lecturers are not forced to cover as much content as they can in a short space of time because of the delays caused by the protests.

“Today we covered three chapters of our text book in one lecture,” she says. “It’s crazy because it’s hard to focus and classes are exhausting. Now it’s up to me to go back to res and study all those chapters so that I can understand what’s going on.”

The two girls explain to DRUM that life has changed completely on campus and they feel like they are living in a military war zone.

“We’re afraid of the police and security guards because anything can set them off and then bullets will be flying again,” says Makhado.

The two girls who are living at student residences on campus say they have now been subjected to a curfew and there are strict rules that students cannot be found walking around campus between 1 am and 5 am in the early hours of the morning.

“This makes life really difficult because I like to study late when there are no distractions, I have to leave the labs and library early and I cannot form a study group because I have to be locked up in my room,” says Masingwako.

The major concern for the girls, however, is that even if they do write exams they are uncertain if they will receive their results and register again next year.

“I am happy that exams are continuing but I’m concerned that I won’t get my results next year because I have outstanding fees,” says Masingwako. “Not only do I have outstanding fees, I also don’t have the R9 000 I need to register for a new year.”

Makhado says their parents support the protests and call for free education because they are under financial strain.

For now the students will have to make do with the circumstances they find themselves in and hope that things will improve in the future.

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